After being missing for over a week, 69-year-old Aletha Gee Walton was “found alive…in a dense pine forest less than a mile from her home.”
A family member last saw Walton, who is suffering from “early stages of dementia, on May 15 at her home located in Prince Edward County. When her family discovered that she was missing two days later, they immediately alerted authorities, and a search ensued.
For over a week, over 60 first responders and “teams with K-9s from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Virginia State Police, Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Search and Rescue Dogs” searched for Walton.
Sheriff L.A. “Tony” Epps stated that “finding Walton ‘took the combined efforts of today’s searchers and all of the ground and air support we have had from the beginning…Over the weekend and all of last week, personnel from numerous state agencies including the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Division, and the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation were involved in the search…The Virginia State Police Aviation Division provided air support, as did Doug Jackson, a private aircraft owner and pilot.”
Thankfully, she was eventually found approximately “0.8 miles from her home in a densely wooded pine forest with thick underbrush…eight days after she was last seen.” Medical personnel assessed Walton straightaway before she was taken to the hospital to be evaluated further.
While Walton was missing, she had to survive “in extreme heat and stormy weather” and when she was discovered, “her family said she was sitting on a stump and singing Amazing Grace.”
Walton’s friends and family breathed “a sigh of relief after she was safely found.” Sandra Knight, Walton’s sister said, “We just broke down and cried, all of us. We didn’t know what to think. We thought somebody had kidnapped her or whatever. We didn’t know what had happened…Amazing Grace. God was with her the whole time.”
“I was so glad it was a happy ending. At first, I didn’t know what to think, I was thinking of the worst. But when they said she was okay, I was so thankful, so thankful,” said Walton’s niece, Deidra Knight.
Rita Allen, Walton’s friend, was extremely thankful about Walton’s recovery—“Thank Jesus. It was a big blessing, it really was…So everybody can take a deep breath and thank God, he’s good all the time.”
Sheriff Epps said, “This has been incredibly challenging, but we are thrilled to be able to provide the family the best possible outcome…I have spoken with the family and they relayed their appreciation to everyone involved in the search for their loved one.”