SEDRO-WOOLLEY — With the search and rescue effort suspended, finding missing 80-year-old Ray Jones is now up to his family.
Bonnie Jones Graham, of Billings, Mont., is Jones’ biological niece, but she considers him her father. She has recruited family and friends to canvass Sedro-Woolley and distribute fliers throughout town.
“It’s been amazing,” she said of the community support. “… Everywhere we’ve gone, people know about it. They’re very helpful, very supportive.”
Jones, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, was reported missing from Birchview Memory Care about 11:30 a.m. Monday and was last seen at the nearby dog park around 12:30 p.m. that day.
Search and Rescue volunteers from Skagit and Snohomish counties used horses, dogs, helicopters, thermal cameras, boats and hydroplanes to search for Jones on Monday. A smaller team returned to the task Tuesday with no luck.
The search was suspended Tuesday afternoon, though Sedro-Woolley detectives are still following leads.
Family friend Karen Anderson of Gig Harbor sat at the picnic table at the Sedro-Woolley Bark Park on Thursday where Jones was last seen. With a big aerial map of town, she plotted the locations of vacant homes where Jones could be squatting.
Meanwhile, Jones Graham spoke with passersby about her father. Her daughter and son-in-law, Laura Graham and Seth Davis, of Bozeman, Mont., had just arrived in town and were prepared to help with the search.
Family and friends are on board with the effort, and even strangers are pitching in.
While trying on hiking boots at the Sportsman’s Warehouse earlier in the week, a manager there released employees to help with the search.
“That was just so heartwarming to me,” Jones Graham said.
Sedro-Woolley Police believe Jones may have hitched a ride somewhere or is staying in an empty house.
Jones Graham said because Jones grew up in Montana, he is attracted to rural settings and could gravitate toward barns, tractors and sheds. She advises local residents to check their own storage sheds.
Jones has lived at Birchview Memory Care since 2009 and in Anacortes for several years before that.
The family has set up a Facebook group, “Help Us Find Ray Jones.”
Anyone who sees him is advised to call 911.
“We know our window of time is closing,” Jones Graham said.