As a Maryland State Police helicopter circled over a Jefferson neighborhood Wednesday night, two women pleaded with the public to help find their missing elderly father.
Seventy-nine-year-old Anthony Joseph Walker, better known as Tony, had been missing 17 hours when the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office convened a news conference outside Walker’s home in the 3800 block of Bedford Drive. A camera on his home captured him leaving the residence at about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, wearing a gray Maryland Terrapins sweatshirt with a white undershirt, khaki pants with a belt and Teva sandals with dark socks. Walker is described as approximately 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He has “salt and pepper” hair.
“Our family desperately needs your help in locating our elderly father,” Jenifer Kidwell said at the conference. “He suffers from dementia and is very hard of hearing.”
Kidwell’s sister Susan White clutched her arm as she spoke, surrounded by more than a dozen friends and family. Two photos of Walker with his great-grandchildren stood on the podium in front of the sisters.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to Walker’s disappearance by family at about 9:20 a.m., said Capt. Jeff Eyler, patrol operations commander. Though Walker has gone out for strolls before, Eyler said, his family was always able to find him relatively quickly.
Police have been conducting an “exhaustive search,” Eyler said, including K9 and drone teams, ground searches and searches by vehicles on roadways. Maryland State Police’s Trooper 3 helicopter took to the skies with its heat-seeking technology just before 6 p.m., FCSO spokesman Todd Wivell said, starting later due to the low cloud cover that persisted through most of the day. The Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services, Frederick Police Department and Chesapeake Search and Rescue Team are also assisting.
Wivell acknowledged the sheriff’s office does not typically hold news conferences for missing people, but Walker’s age, memory and hearing loss were factors that elevated concern. What’s more, he said, after hours of searching, police have only received one or two tips.
Police urge residents to call 911 if they see Walker and ask people to search their vehicles and outbuildings. The sheriff’s office can also be reached at 301-600-1046.
If a stranger came upon her father, Kidwell told reporters, she believes he would be friendly and asking for help. Even with his dementia, she said he would recall the names of his daughters, Jennifer and Susan, if someone mentioned them.
As of the 6:30 p.m. conference, Eyler said the sheriff’s office was not yet asking the community to assist with ground searches but said it could be a possibility in the near future. If it comes to that, Eyler said instructions on how to volunteer would be posted to FCSO social media platforms.
“We deeply appreciate any help,” Kidwell said, “all help that we can receive in locating our father.”