Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Oxford continues search for professor

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

OXFORD - With a new citywide search scheduled tonight, the family of a missing Miami University emeritus professor holds onto the hope he'll be found more than two weeks after his disappearance,

Charles E. Capel, 81, was reported missing on May 21 by his family. Described as 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, bald with brown eyes and a full beard, Capel has Alzheimer's disease. The disease, which affects about 4.5 million Americans, destroys brain cells, often causing memory loss.

While several large searches yielded no signs of the former Miami University professor, police have sent fliers to places he used to live, thinking he may have "reverted" to older memories. They also ave contacted homeless shelters, hospitals and nursing homes in nearby cities.

Capel served in the Army during World War II and worked as a research mathematician at the Westinghouse Research Laboratories before becoming a professor at Miami University.

"He loved to teach," said his daughter Janice Capel Anderson, a professor at the University of Idaho. "Even when he was deteriorating with Alzheimer's, he'd say to me, 'Isn't it great to help students!'"

Capel was a professor of mathematics and statistics for 33 years.

After numerous calls by citizens volunteering to search, the Oxford Police Department will hold a communitywide search for Capel tonight. Volunteers should meet at the parking lot of the Miami Credit Union on Wells Mill Drive and McGuffey Avenue at 6 p.m.

According to Oxford Police Sgt. Jim Squance, searchers will be divided into 12 to 15 sections in a 5-mile radius around Capel's home. He said the search, supervised by police, would continue until they "exhaust all probabilities."

The Capel family continues to hope that he'll be found.

"It's amazing how many people have had this experience (with Alzheimer's)," said his daughter Gail Capel Stephenoff. "This particular case is unusual because it's gone on and on. Hopefully, he's found soon."

E-mail jgambrell@fuse.net

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