Homer woman remains missing after search shifts statewide

A security camera image of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane shows her leaving her Main Street apartment at 12:13 p.m. Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)

A security camera image of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane shows her leaving her Main Street apartment at 12:13 p.m. Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)

In the ongoing effort to find missing Homer woman Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, Homer Police on Wednesday released a security camera image showing her leaving her Main Street apartment at 12:13 p.m. last Thursday, Oct. 17. Police said they believe Murnane was heading on foot to an appointment at an East End Road address.

In a Facebook post, police asked anyone with home security cameras, RING cameras, game cameras or other devices to check for images between 12:13 to 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 17 that might have shown her walking along Lee Drive, Herndon Drive, lower Svedlund Street, lower Kachemak Way, East Fairview Avenue, and Pioneer Avenue to Lake Street.

Police have canvassed the area, but a more specific time of when Murnane might have been in the area could help people narrow searches on security cameras.

On Monday afternoon, and after consulting with family, Homer Police called off the ground and local search for Murnane.

Murnane, 38, has been missing from her Main Street home since last Thursday. Police have not given up trying to locate the Homer woman, but have shifted their focus from a local to a statewide search. Based on ground and air searches, and scent tracking by search and rescue dogs, police have ruled out that Murnane is still in the Homer area and have expanded the search.

“Our current belief is she was picked up sometime Thursday evening, most likely headed northbound somewhere,” said Homer Police Lt. Ryan Browning on Monday. “… We don’t have a lot right now. We’ve exhausted every lead we have that would put her in town.”

Homer Police issued a Silver Alert for Murnane on Saturday, Oct. 19, after she was reported missing last Thursday, Oct. 17. Alaska State Troopers followed up with a statewide alert on Sunday. Murnane “is determined to be at risk,” police said in the alert. Silver Alerts are issued for missing adults considered to be vulnerable in some way.

Murnane was wearing a blue jacket, light-blue shirt and blue jeans the last time she was seen, is almost 6 feet and weighs about 160 pounds. In the latest security image, she carries a purse or bag with a shoulder strap. She has brown hair and blue eyes. Police said she does not drive or own a vehicle.

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.

Based on new information received on Monday morning, Browning said the last known visual sighting of Murnane was at about 5:15 p.m. last Thursday when someone who knew her saw Murnane in front of Homer’s Jeans on Pioneer Avenue near Heath Street. She was headed east. That area is across the street from the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College, and Homer City Hall, and near Cosmic Kitchen. Murnane frequented Cosmic Kitchen, Browning said.

Dogs and handlers from North Paw K9 Search and Recovery and Anchorage Search Team worked the area from Murnane’s home in Maintree Supportive Housing, an apartment complex on Main Street, to Pioneer Avenue. The dogs followed a scent from Main Street to Lee Drive, down Svedlund Street, along a trail or alley way to Kachemak Way, and down Kachemak Way to Pioneer Avenue. At Homer’s Jeans the dogs could no longer follow a scent, Browning said,

“They’re acting as if they had what we call ‘a car pickup,’” he said.

About 50 volunteers on Sunday did a ground search for Murnane. Organized by the Homer Volunteer Fire Department under the direction of Alaska State Troopers, on Sunday afternoon the teams walked wooded areas on the west side of town below Bartlett Street to the Homer Bypass and in the Karen Hornaday Park areas.

Working in grids, teams of volunteers walked woods of alder and spruce that dot the backyards of businesses and homes in the west Homer area. They looked in culverts, in outbuildings, under porches and even in dumpsters. Although in downtown Homer, many of the backyards of businesses and homes can be heavily wooded with thick alder bushes or stands of mature spruce trees.

“Obviously, we’re trying to do a search of the local area and anywhere accessible to her,” said HVFD Chief Mark Kirko.

Police also searched by air. With help from Maritime Helicopters, they did a low search on Saturday, Oct. 19. Searches were done using drone aircraft and driving an Argo all-terrain vehicle on the beach.

A check of airports and ferry terminals showed Murnane has not traveled by plane or ferry, Browning said. Police also were checking with border stations at the Alaska-Canada border.

The tracking dogs also searched Karen Hornaday Park, a trail west of South Peninsula Hospital, the Reber Trail from Fairview Avenue to West Hill Road, and the area around Ben Walters Lane near The Center, or South Peninsula Behavioral Services.

“We’re still holding our breath on this, but at least we’re not expecting to find her in the woods at this point,” said Murnane’s step-father, Ed Berg.

Browning said Murnane has her wallet, identification and cell phone. She did not appear to have packed a bag but is believed to have her passport. Murnane is not on any medications that would harm her if she didn’t take them, Browning said.

Murnane had made plans to travel out of state in November. There had been no communication by Murnane with family or on social media since last Tuesday.

Based on cell phone records, Murnane’s cell phone showed it had last been used about 11:30 a.m. last Thursday near Baycrest Hill at Mile 171 Sterling Highway, Browning said. However, cell phone hits like that are accurate within about a 3.5-mile radius.

Police also checked security cameras along the route the search dogs indicated Murnane took. Browning asked anyone who might have game or security cameras to check footage for any possible sightings of Murnane.

Search efforts have now shifted to looking at bank and electronic records, Browning said. On Monday police applied for search warrants to do so. Police also have contacted the FBI. As a missing person, she would show up in in law enforcement records if she was contacted and her identification run through databases.

On Wednesday, Browning said warrants on social media accounts and bank accounts have been served and police are waiting for information from those businesses. Police also got access to her email.

“We’ve got lots of leads coming in, but gotten nowhere,” Browning said. “…We’re looking at every single thing we’ve got.”

Browning described Murnane as a vulnerable adult in that “she’s very naive and trusting,” he said. “We want to make sure if she is on her own, she is safe.”

“The biggest thing is this is so much outside her normal behavior pattern,” he said. “That causes some concern.”

On behalf of Murnane’s family, Berg thanked everyone who has helped.

“We certainly appreciate all the great help folks have provided with the searching and the police department,” Berg said.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

A missing person poster for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane put out on Oct. 20, 2019, by Homer Police in Homer, Alaska. (Image provided)

A missing person poster for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane put out on Oct. 20, 2019, by Homer Police in Homer, Alaska. (Image provided)

Casey Fetterhoff, left, with the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, leads a search on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, off Main Street and Pioneer Avenue for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, a Homer woman missing since Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Casey Fetterhoff, left, with the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, leads a search on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, off Main Street and Pioneer Avenue for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, a Homer woman missing since Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Volunteers on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, walk a path between the Homer Theatre and Bartlett Street while searching the woods off Main Street and Pioneer Avenue for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, a Homer woman missing since Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Volunteers on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, walk a path between the Homer Theatre and Bartlett Street while searching the woods off Main Street and Pioneer Avenue for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, a Homer woman missing since Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Homer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Kirko, center, shows volunteers search areas at the fire hall as part of an effort on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, to find Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, reported missing on Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people showed up that afternoon in an unsuccessful effort to find the missing woman. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Homer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Kirko, center, shows volunteers search areas at the fire hall as part of an effort on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, to find Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, reported missing on Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people showed up that afternoon in an unsuccessful effort to find the missing woman. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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