An elderly Jefferson man was found dead in a creek bed near his home Thursday evening after hundreds of police and volunteers scoured the area for hours.

Anthony Joseph Walker, better known as Tony, was 79 years old. He has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, his daughter Jenifer Kidwell said at a news conference Wednesday night when police were still searching for him. Camera footage from Walker’s home in the 3800 block of Bedford Drive showed him leaving the residence at about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday. He had dementia and hearing loss.

Walker was found dead at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release issued at 8:33 p.m. FCSO spokesman Todd Wivell said Walker was found less than a mile, as the crow flies, from his home. 

Two Jefferson residents who decided to walk their property Thursday night found Walker, according to Wivell. The terrain made it "very hard" for Walker to be seen, Wivell said.

“This is an especially sad time for the Walker family, the Jefferson community, and all Frederick County residents,” Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said in the release. “Our deepest condolences go out to Tony’s family, friends, and neighbors and please know that the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office will be here to support you however we can.”

The family reported Walker missing to police at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to FCSO. He’d left home previously for strolls, police said, but family always found him relatively quickly.

Walker’s death is an active investigation under the FCSO Criminal Investigations Section, the release reads, and his body will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for a full autopsy.

Two days of searching included agencies from Frederick County, Carroll County, Montgomery County, Loudoun County, Virginia; Maryland State Police; Berkeley Springs and Berkeley County, West Virginia; Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Chesapeake Search Dogs, and nearly 200 volunteers, according to FCSO.

Volunteers met at Remsburg Park in Middletown Thursday afternoon and were split into search parties led by police. Their efforts spanned several miles in and around Jefferson.

A search party led by FCSO Cpl. Daniel McDowell focused on a stretch of Jefferson Pike, not far from Valley Elementary School. McDowell directed the group’s path and made note of where they looked. He was impressed by the turnout, some of which included people who never met Walker or his family.

“I don’t know the family,” Frederick resident John Daniels said as he trekked through a field of tall grass and brush. “I think we owe it to each other to assist.”

As volunteers hiked over hills, down valleys and along the side of the road, they expressed dismay over not finding signs of Walker, but remained hopeful Thursday afternoon.

Passing over a stretch of grassy land, Jefferson resident Valerie Eiben wondered aloud whether Walker wore any identifying jewelry like a bracelet. Her father, who has Alzheimer’s, has a bracelet with family contact information. He lives in a group home now, but Eiben said she used to worry about him walking off.

Then Walker went missing.

“When I saw this, I was like, ‘I have to go,’” Eiben said.

McDowell stopped to remind members of his party to stay together in order to search effectively.

“I really, really do appreciate everyone’s help,” McDowell told the group of roughly 15 people. “You guys came out here in the goodness of your heart.”

Jefferson resident Jeff Hall, whose brother is a retired sheriff’s deputy, said he felt compelled to lend a hand.

“This is one of our own,” Hall said. “I would want somebody to do this for me.”

This story has been updated from its original version.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller 

(13) comments

stefcfi

My deepest condolences to Tony's family. Thank you to all the volunteers. This is heart-breaking.

Hayduke2

A sad ending to the search for this gentleman. Hope the family can find peace and closure.

sevenstones1000

So sorry for the family and friends of this gentle soul.

THanks to all the wonderful people who helped.

Frayou

So sad for the family. May he rest in piece. Thanks to all for their help, concern and compassion. God be with all.

Crab0721

[sad] I was really hoping a better outcome. Praying for your family during this difficult time. May GOD comfort you and give you strength to make it through the days ahead.

Many thanks for to each and every one of you who helped this family. May GOD Bless each and every single one of you.

jamesnee

Until evidence is shown otherwise, I prefer to view this as a completion of a mans life; it is perfectly natural for a man to eventually die. Death is an eventual obligation of this reality experience. People may naturally die at all ages, and the way things have been recently, 79 may be viewed as a complete life on earth. In Faith we believe he has transcended into eternal life amongst the waters.

olefool

We may never know what was going through this gentleman's mind that sent him on an errand through nature's forest. Perhaps he sought a peaceful way out of this veil of tears, perhaps not. I pray he perished when and where and how he wished.

Fredginrickey

So very sad. Condolences to the family.

gabrielshorn2013

What a sad and tragic ending. May his loved ones find peace.

public-redux

Kudos to all the caring folk who were able to help and did.

Plumbum

Sad ending. And what a wonderful community effort in helping to find the man. Frederick county is a great place!

Comment deleted.
Comment deleted.
Crab0721

He was trying to make a point that no matter what political party you are everyone came together. Even if he had said something about race in the comment. The whole point was that This is how we should be getting along no matter our Political party or Race or anything else that we may be. We should all put our differences aside and help one out no matter what. That is why he said we need to start going back to being better Americans despite all of the horrible things that are happening in the world today

Comment deleted.
sevenstones1000

CD, you should be ashamed for being ashamed of what real Americans look like.

Hint: not like Trump, who mocks the handicapped, or did you conveniently forget that?

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