Monday, October 25, 2004

Volunteers resume search for missing man

Community touched by possible Alzheimer's link

By Matt Leingang
Enquirer staff writer

OXFORD - Miscellaneous clothing items and partial bones were found Sunday during a three-hour search for Charles E. Capel, a retired mathematics professor at Miami University.

It was unclear if the bones were human or animal or if the clothing was Capel's. The items will be analyzed by the Butler County coroner this week.

Cincinnati Police Sgt. Mark Kelley (center) talks with Oxford Police officers Shawn Terrell (left) from the K-9 unit and Patrolman Bob Lindner as they search some rough terrain.
(Enquirer photo/MICHAEL E. KEATING)
Five months since he was reported missing, about 170 community volunteers turned out to search a one-mile radius around Capel's house on Patrick Drive.

Capel, 81, who has Alzheimer's disease, has been missing since 8 a.m. May 21, when his wife awoke to find him gone from their house.

Previous community searches, including a June 8 event that drew 400 volunteers in this Butler County city of 22,000, failed to turn up anything.

"It's very sad that the family can't have any kind of closure," said Carol Strimple, 64, of Oxford. Strimple, who doesn't know the Capel family, said she was drawn to Sunday's search by a sense of community service.

The roster of volunteers included members of Miami University's women's basketball team. They were joined by close to 100 law enforcement officials from Cincinnati, Butler County and the 11th Military Police Battalion of the Ohio Military Reserve.

"I read about the case in the media and thought I had to lend a hand," said 58-year-old Charles Carrico, a real estate agent from Middletown. "I know people who've had Alzheimer's disease, and it's a terrible thing."

About 60 percent of people with Alzheimer's will wander and become lost at some point during their illness, according to the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati.

Oxford police organized the search with the hope that visibility in the wooded areas surrounding Capel's house would be better in the fall, when leaves had fallen from the trees.

Police had also sought the help of Noreen Renier, a 67-year-old "psychic detective" from Virginia who assisted in the hunt for Laci Peterson in California and claims to have participated in 400 police investigations over 25 years.

Renier had told Oxford police this month that she believes Capel is within eight walking-minutes of his house.

"We had pretty much exhausted all traditional methods of solving this mystery," said Oxford police Sgt. Jim Squance.

Capel's family did not attend Sunday's search. Capel and his wife have two daughters.


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