Homer Police on Monday afternoon have called off the ground and local search for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, 38, missing from her Main Street home since Thursday, but they have not given up trying to locate the Homer woman.
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 statewide.
“Our current belief is she was picked up sometime Thursday evening, most likely headed northbound somewhere,” said Homer Police Lt. Ryan Browning in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. “… 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 on Oct. 17. Alaska State Troopers issued 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 in some way to be vulnerable.
Murnane was wearing a blue jacket, light-blue shirt and blue jeans and is almost 6-feet and weighs about 160 pounds. 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 sighting of Murnane was 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 and 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.
“Obviously, we’re trying to do a search of the local area and anywhere accessible to her,” said HVFD Chief Mark Kirko.
Police also have been searching 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 tower 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.
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.