My name is Nikki Krause. I am Kira Trevino’s cousin. On Sunday, March 10, my husband, Scott, and I drove from our home in central Wisconsin to the Twin Cities to join the search for Kira. I want to share what I experienced.

On Feb. 24, Kira, of St. Paul, went missing. Four days later, her husband was charged in connection with her murder. Despite the media attention this case has received, Kira has yet to be found. The toll on the family is difficult to imagine — and it grows more painful and frustrating every day.

The search was organized by two young women who head a group calling itself Rapid Search & Rescue of Wisconsin Rapids, and was held in Lilydale/Harriet Island Regional Park in St. Paul, which runs along the Mississippi River from the edge of downtown St. Paul to near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Scott and I arrived at the gathering point about an hour before the search began. I couldn’t sit still, and found myself pacing the area with nervous energy. I was just sick of feeling helpless; I wanted to get started. As the size of the group began to grow, we noticed several other searchers also pacing impatiently.

While we waited, we met a man named Mark and his girlfriend. My eyes filled with tears when they explained that all they knew of Kira is what they had heard through the news media. This couple was spending an entire Sunday searching for my loved one — a total stranger to them.

Once again, amid this terrible nightmare, I was witness to the selfless generosity of the community. It continues to give us hope for reuniting Kira with her family, and for giving us all some much-needed closure.

The presearch meeting began with several volunteers offering their thoughts on where Kira might be found, how she could have gotten there, why she might have been placed there.

But as the group discussed more search details — like digging, dragging the river and ultimately finding a body — I felt sick and had to look away. When I turned around, I found myself facing Mark’s girlfriend, and I felt the compassion and strength that radiated from her.

People we didn’t know and never could have imagined meeting banded together and started combing the park, shovels over their shoulders and two-way radios on their belts. Each person was willing to climb the steepest bluff to investigate plastic garbage bags and scraps of clothing.

In fact, this group of 30 to 40 strangers quickly bonded — united by a single mission: Find my poor cousin Kira.

At times I had to stop, barely able to see the ground in front of me through my tears, having to be held up by my husband. My stomach jumped and my heart sank each time someone yelled, “I found a bag!”

We all want to find Kira. But honestly, it’s a mix of hope and horror.

Yet amid the agony I felt a renewed sense of humanity when we needed it the most. Last week, these dedicated searchers had never heard of Kira, nor of my family. Yet here they were — and it moved me to tears more than once.

As a family, we’re experiencing the unimaginable — Kira has been murdered. Last week, her sister told me “it hurts to breathe,” and her mother is so full of indescribable grief she can barely get through each day.

When a tragedy like this unfolds on the news, you hear the family say, “This is something you see on TV, but you never think will happen to you.” And it is so true — it’s a nightmare from which you cannot wake up.

But as we have seen time and time again, the worst catastrophes also bring out the infinite good in people.

I tried to say it to as many searchers as I could on Sunday, but I want to say it again: On behalf of Kira’s entire extended family spread across several states, we offer our deepest gratitude to everyone who was involved in last week’s searches, or who has otherwise reached out to offer strength, prayers and support.

I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who carried a shovel on Sunday. To those of you who showed us so much courage, and to those of you who were willing to help by speaking to the media. You were strong for me when my tears overwhelmed me.

We know you understand why Kira’s mother is not able to join the search parties. She is trying to find the strength just to face each day — much less search the woods, petrified that she might find the unthinkable with every step.

Members of our family want to be with searchers every day until we bring Kira home. We will try to be there in person, but on the days when caring for family members or meeting with law enforcement officials keeps us from searching, our hearts will be with you, and we urge you to take great care.

Finally, I want to give a very special thank you to Mark and his girlfriend for the comfort and understanding they provided us on Sunday. We will show our gratitude by always paying it forward.

God bless you all.


Nicole Krause lives in Kronenwetter, Wis.