More than two months after Anesha “Duffy” Murnane went missing, Homer Police with the help of the FBI and Alaska State Troopers keep searching for the Homer woman.
Murnane, 38, has been missing since Oct. 17 after she was last seen in a security camera image leaving her Main Street apartment. Murnane’s mother is Sara Berg and her step-father is Ed Berg.
“We’re working with the FBI on a number of different avenues,” said Homer Police Lt. Ryan Browning on Dec. 23. “… It’s been a multifaceted team effort. It’s not just us trying to do everything. They have the technical expertise.”
Troopers also have been helping Homer Police in checking out tips for locations outside city limits, Browning said.
“They’ve helped us out with search-and-rescue resources, following up on tips throughout the state,” he said.
The FBI also has been helping out through its behavioral analysis unit and doing forensic computer work. Browning said he talks to the FBI two or three times daily.
“We’ve taken this as seriously as we can from day one,” he said. “There’s nothing to go on in this case so far. We’ve followed up hundreds of tips and nothing’s born fruit.”
Murnane disappeared on Oct. 17 after leaving her Main Street apartment for an appointment at the SVT Health & Wellness clinic on East End Road. The last confirmed sighting is a security camera photo showing her leaving the Maintree Apartments, a supported housing complex, about 12:15 p.m. that day. Murnane had a 1 p.m. appointment at SVT Health and Wellness Center, about a 1-mile walk from her home. She did not show up for that appointment.
Homer Police and Alaska State Troopers issued a Silver Alert on Oct. 19 for Murnane after she was reported missing that day. Anyone with information on her whereabouts can call Homer Police at 907-235-3150 or the Silver Alert hotline at 855-SILVR99 or 855-745-8799. A Silver Alert is for an adult considered a vulnerable person.
Murnane should be seen as more than a missing, vulnerable adult, said Kate Finn, a friend of the Berg family. Finn spoke of Murnane’s “desire to go to a third-world country and work with babies when she was 15 years old.”
“That is part of who Duffy really is,” Finn said. “The fact that nature helped to heal her — who in Homer doesn’t relate to that? She’s a person with unique, loving qualities, and we’ve lost her to this community.”
The weekend after Murnane went missing, search and rescue dog teams from Anchorage tracked her in the downtown area, picking up scents from Main Street to Lee Drive, Svedlund Street, Pioneer Avenue and Kachemak Way. Search dogs followed strong scents to Pioneer Avenue area near Cosmic Kitchen, in front of Homer’s Jeans and the Kachemak Bay Campus. In that general area the dogs acted as if there had been what search dog handlers call a “car pick up.”
Shannon Kimball of North Paw K9 Search and Rescue in Anchorage was one of the dog handlers doing that search with her bloodhound. Kimball said in her training she looks for her dog to show certain body language when the dog perceives a scent changes.
“We learn to read the dog basically like a book. Is the dog following the scent we’ve asked?” Kimball said. “…If she starts slowing down, I have to watch her. Are we dealing with a possible car pick up?”
When her dog and another search dog and handler came to that area, both dogs indicated a car pick up.
“To us that tells us something happened there,” she said. “What happened, we don’t know.”
Murnane’s family say they believe someone picked her up in a vehicle and that she has been abducted. Browning said police have officially classified her as missing, not abducted.
Kimball said dogs and handlers also searched nearby intersections on the theory that Murnane might have been picked up and dropped off nearby. The teams found nothing.
“We hate not being able to find our folks,” Kimball said. “No matter how hard our dogs work, we absolutely hate that.”
Murnane’s family has added a $10,000 reward offered through Crimestoppers for any information leading to her return. Anonymous tips can be given to Crimestoppers by calling 907-283-8477. Information on the case is at the Peninsula Crime Stoppers page at www.peninsulacrimestoppers.com.
Murnane’s family has a Facebook page, Bring Duffy Home, and a Go Fund Me account to raise money to assist the search.
Murnane was wearing a blue jacket, light-blue shirt and blue jeans the last time she was seen. She is almost 6 feet tall, weighs about 160 pounds and has shoulder-length brown hair and blue eyes. She carried a pink-and-black plaid purse with a shoulder strap and carried her wallet, cell phone and identification. Police said she does not drive or own a vehicle and got around by walking.
Police feel confident they have ruled out Murnane disappearing in the downtown area near her home and getting lost because of illness or injury. Police haven’t found anything to suggest she had suicidal or depressive thoughts or that she talked about disappearing.