Mother of missing man from Kona: ‘I can’t sleep. I have nightmares.’
March 5, 2023, 4:00 AM HST
Friday marked six months since Connie Fairbanks last saw her 42-year-old son Landon. He left their Kailua-Kona home at about 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 3, 2022, saying he was going to the gym. He never returned.
Other than a few sightings in the Captain Cook area on the Big Island’s west side and Hāmākua on the east side, no one else has seen or spoken to him since about noon on that fateful day in August. Landon disappeared, and his mother is understandably distraught.
“I can’t sleep. I have nightmares,” she said. “Especially with this weather, I worry about him if he’s out in the elements. It’s just, it’s the worst heartbreak I’ve ever had.”
Sobbing, she added: “I don’t know if I’m gonna find him alive.”
The Hawai‘i Police Department has issued several calls for help from the public to find Landon, the first less than 24 hours after his disappearance. Police have followed up on several leads but to no avail. The department continues its search, and on Feb. 10 renewed its request for assistance.
At some point, he drove to the “Two-Step” beach area in Hōnaunau and reportedly parked his car at a nearby home. Several hours and multiple calls and texts after their final conversation with no response, Connie Fairbanks was contacted by two people in the same area who told her Landon had signed over his car to them, leaving a note with his mother’s phone number written on it so they could arrange to pick up the vehicle’s missing backseat from her home.
After being contacted, Connie Fairbanks and her other son went to the last location Landon was seen. Police and first responders also were called to the scene, but by then there was no sign of him. He seemingly disappeared with only the clothes he was wearing.
“He doesn’t have his phone, he doesn’t have his wallet, he doesn’t have his backpack, he doesn’t have anything,” Connie Fairbanks said.
Landon also doesn’t have his medication. He was being treated for bipolar disorder at the time of his disappearance.
The amount of medication Connie Fairbanks found in Landon’s abandoned bag has her worried that he might not have been taking it as prescribed, which in the past has caused him to suffer adverse affects such as hearing voices and seeing things sometimes. She also said her son struggled with substance abuse and was stressed out because they were told they had to vacate their home.
Yes, he has behavioral health issues. Yes, he has a past with substance abuse. But his mother said his life was on a different trajectory before he went missing.
“He was clean. He was sober,” Connie Fairbanks said. “He was on a good path, we thought.”
Even while he was going through those issues, he kept in touch with her. He has never done anything like this before.
Connie Fairbanks thinks there might be more to the story when it comes to the two people to whom Landon gave his car. They did give it back to her, but they waited for hours before calling her and not until after taking it for a test drive. She said they also were rude when she tried to get information from them.
Landon’s mother balks at the two people saying her son, who she called “a loaner,” left to meet friends.
With no new leads and no new information for the past six months, Connie Fairbanks is also frustrated, even angry, with the way her son’s disappearance is being handled — or not handled — by the Hawai‘i Police Department. She said the only communication she’s had with police about Landon is when they call and ask if she’s heard anything from him.
She also feels because he is an adult and has a history with police, they don’t care that he’s missing and aren’t working hard enough to find him.
“I’m not happy,” Connie Fairbanks said. “I just think that if they would have handled it differently from the very beginning, things might be different right now.”
Hawai‘i Police Department Acting Lt. Carrie Akina with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section said no foul play or suspicious circumstances are suspected in Landon’s disappearance. She said officers have followed up on all leads, including four possible sightings around the island, from Hāmākua to Waikōloa, Kealakekua and Pāhoa. Extensive ground and vehicle searches have been conducted, including searches using the department’s scent-detection K9.
In addition, four media releases and multiple social media posts have been published to encourage community members to keep an eye out for Landon and report if they see him.
Denise Laitinen, public relations specialist with the Hawai‘i Police Department, said all avenues are being pursued in the effort to locate Landon and those efforts have never stopped since his disappearance was reported. She likely would feel the same way if she were in Connie Fairbanks’ position.
“I totally understand her grief and frustration,” Laitinen said.
Akina said the department believes every reported missing person deserves a full and thorough investigation to find them. She always keeps a missing person’s family in mind in each case.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we will continue to follow up on all leads,” she said.
Connie Fairbanks, her family and others helping look for Landon have put up fliers around the island seeking information about his whereabouts. That includes East Hawai‘i, where he has spent time working and helping people with building projects.
Landon is Caucasian, 6 feet tall and 230 pounds, with a salt-and-pepper beard, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. He has a distinctive tribal tattoo on his right bicep and an Asian-inspired black tattoo with red flowers that covers his full left calf.
He is known to frequent the Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona areas.
Anyone who has information that could lead to finding Landon is asked to call the Hawai‘i Police Department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 808-961-8300. You can also call or text his mother at 808-987-9585.
Connie Fairbanks is heartbroken, living in “the worst nightmare you can possibly imagine.” She keeps hoping to wake up from that nightmare and Landon will be standing there in front of her, home safe.
She wants her son back. There’s not a moment that goes by that she’s not thinking about him and where he could be.
“It never goes away,” she said. “It’s always in the back of my mind.”