The search continues long after it is forgotten

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, January 27, 2016

By now, it’s a well-known story: Searchers have diligently but unsuccessfully scoured large sections of the county, but she vanished.

Time has passed and now all family and friends can do is wonder and hope.

But this isn’t the recent disappearance of Kathleen Williams — the 53-year-old Victoria woman who went missing from her family’s 10th Street home on Saturday, Jan. 2.

This time, the missing woman was Virginia Edmonds, who disappeared from her Kenbridge home on June 28, 2013, and has not been seen since.

Edmonds, who suffered from dementia, disappeared after she left the house for the third time, between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., that day. Her son said it was normal for his mother to occasionally leave the house to run errands.

She was last seen wearing a Members-Only-style black jacket with black shoes and driving her 1999 silver Oldsmobile Alero.

From the start, searchers aggressively hunted for the woman, but the case went cold for several months until September 2013 when — over the Labor Day weekend — a man clearing a field for dove hunting season found her car in the woods near Egg Road.

Authorities received a tip that she used to baby-sit at a house near where her car was found, walking her charges around a nearby park and then circling back to the stream to let them play in the water, media reports at the time said.

Investigators said at the time that a trail of latex balloons were also found leading from the car; but not Edmonds.

Helicopters were called in; professional search and rescue teams helped out; lakes were searched; and over 18,000 man-hours went into the hunt. A 12-mile radius was searched using data from a study on the wanderings of 600 dementia patients.

“We exhausted every avenue I know of to locate her from where the vehicle was found,” Lunenburg County Sheriff Arthur Townsend Jr. recently said.

“I’m fairly satisfied with the effort, but we just didn’t get the results.”

In the end, Kenbridge Police Chief Raymond Hite recalls, “Nothing was really found.”

Victoria Police Chief Keith Phillips is blunter: “We searched our hind ends off on that one. We did all we can do.”

For his part, Townsend slips between speaking in past tense as he acknowledges that pretty much everything that can be done, has been done; and present tense and its optimism.

“We really haven’t given up,” Townsend said. “We occasionally get calls with people speculating. I guess people just want to get involved and want to help. Any calls we get we try to check it out.”

A missing person’s flyer for Edmonds is still up in the court’s building, and, Townsend said, in the last few months he went out to follow up on one of the theories.

Townsend makes a point to end the conversation with one last point: “We still have our minds on the family and just hope they can continue to be strong.”