Missing Duluth woman's family feels helplessDale Gerard, 74, went missing from her home at Wesley Residence, an assisted-living facility in West Duluth, and was last seen boarding an eastbound bus in the area of Elinor Street and Grand Avenue on July 20.
By: Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune
For more than two weeks, Kim Gerard has cringed every time he heard the phone ring.
His mother, Dale Gerard, is missing and the family has few leads on her whereabouts and condition.
“It could be the call that you don't want to hear, but we’ve got to face that possibility,” Kim Gerard said. “It’s nothing that I would wish on anyone, that's for sure.”
Dale Gerard, 74, went missing from her home at Wesley Residence, an assisted-living facility in West Duluth, and was last seen boarding an eastbound bus in the area of Elinor Street and Grand Avenue on July 20.
Family members say they believe that Gerard, a lifelong Duluth resident, would not have left the area. However, they say they’ve checked every logical place they believe she would go, and have yet to turn up any signs of their loved one.
“You watch TV and hear about people losing a grandparent or a child, but you really don’t understand what people go through until it happens to you,” Kim Gerard said. “You just swim. You feel useless because you’ve already done everything you can and there’s nothing more you can do.”
Gerard suffers from dementia and requires medication. In recent years, her condition has left her confused and living in the past, family members said.
Gerard has four children, two of whom live in Duluth. They described her as a caring, trustworthy mother, but now they fear she was too trustworthy.
“She trusts everyone she meets,” said her son Mark Gerard of Duluth. “Hopefully, that’s not an issue in this case. We’re hoping she didn’t meet someone and trust them too much.”
Not knowing his mother’s whereabouts or condition makes it difficult to go about everyday life, Mark Gerard said.
“It’s just nerve-wracking,” he said. “We hope that wherever she is, she’s being taken care of. It’s the not knowing that’s getting to everybody. We don’t know what to do. There’s nothing that we can do.”
Duluth police Lt. Mike Ceynowa said it is unusual for a case involving an elderly patient to drag on for this long. The last similar case he could remember was about six years ago.
“A case like this with an elderly person is pretty rare,” Ceynowa said.
Ceynowa said police have received information that indicates Gerard might have been unhappy at the Wesley Residence. The fact that she has not been spotted seems to indicate that she might have left the area, Ceynowa said. However, the search is hindered by the fact that she does not have a phone or bank account that can be monitored.
Families often get frustrated when missing-person investigations don’t yield any results, Ceynowa said. But with little information, the department is unable to use many resources, he said.
“I wish we had enough police officers that we could always put a family as a top priority,” Ceynowa said. “We do assign a dedicated investigator and encourage them to make regular contacts with the family. But this family has been very proactive, too.”
Gerard is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 155 pounds and has brown eyes and auburn or reddish hair. She has distinct red marks on her chin, nose and cheeks. She was last seen wearing dark-colored pants, a flowered blouse and a pink sweater.
Police previously issued an advisory asking residents of Lincoln Park to search their outbuildings, campers and other places where Gerard might be staying. Police officers and members of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Volunteer Rescue Squad also conducted a search of the area days after Gerard’s disappearance.
Anyone with information about Gerard’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Duluth Police Department at (218) 730-5400 or call 911.