After an eight year search, a daughter reunites with father

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For Harbison Canyon resident Dena Malone, Christmas came about five weeks late—which was simply fine with her.

“As first, I thought it was a cruel Internet joke,” explained Malone. “Anyone that knows me understands how I’ve been searching for my father for years.”

Suddenly after eight years, her Facebook account was seeking people with her name, leading to a most welcome family reunion when Malone was reunited with her father, Steve May, over the weekend.

For Harbison Canyon resident Dena Malone, Christmas came about five weeks late—which was simply fine with her.

“As first, I thought it was a cruel Internet joke,” explained Malone. “Anyone that knows me understands how I’ve been searching for my father for years.”

Suddenly after eight years, her Facebook account was seeking people with her name, leading to a most welcome family reunion when Malone was reunited with her father, Steve May, over the weekend.

“I was weary, but I answered the message and asked for details—his full name, what he looked like—and all of the answers were right,” she added. “I couldn’t believe it was true.”

Mays, 59, walked along beach communities throughout Southern California since 2006 as a transient. No one’s really sure how or why he disappeared. Years of alcohol abuse erased most of those memories.

“Every Saturday, we would go to the beach where he lived to get together for family barbeques,” she recalled. “Then one week, he just wasn’t there.”

At first, Malone, a retired property management executive, contacted local hospitals, then law enforcement agencies to report Mays’ disappearance.

“It got to the point where I was calling jails along the coast from here to Oregon because transients often get arrested for sleeping where they shouldn’t,” she said. “I nearly found him twice, but he had been just released both times.”

Now, Malone welcomes Mays to an even-greater extended family, which now includes four grand children.

A Good Samaritan, Dan Collins of Torrance, intervened to aid the family’s reunion.

At first, Collins objective was to move Mays out of the cold and rain, never expecting such cathartic results.

“I got to know him a little bit, so one day I let in to get out of the rain,” said Collins, owner of a roofing company. “It’s what you’re supposed to do in taking care of one another.”

Collins’ daughter, Jen, found Malone online and they exchanged messages from their laptop computers. This, indeed, was no hoax.

“She never gave up hope find me,” said Mays. “It’s hard to believe, but she never gave up.”

A quick phone call to Malone’s 26-year old son in Yuma, Ariz., led to the two meeting halfway in El Centro, then onward for a trip over the Salton Sea to Torrance to meet, greeting Mays with hugs and kisses.

And he’s now longer homeless.

“He’ll stay with my son in Yuma for a week or so, then he’ll move in with us,” she added. “He’s got a lot of new grandchildren to get to know.”

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