A Silver Alert was in effect Tuesday for a 94-year-old woman who was reported missing from the San Juan Capistrano area.
Shirley “Jean” Airth was last seen leaving her home for one of her regular walks at about 5 p.m. Sunday in the 32000 block of Via Buena, according to the California Highway Patrol, which issued the alert Monday on behalf of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Airth, who lives with her family, is “known for going out for walks,” according to Orange County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Steinle. “She walks at a very rapid pace. She’s very athletic for 94 years old so our concern is she could be a great distance from her residence.”
Her son, Brian Airth, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that his mother was recently starting to show signs of dementia.
“She currently has dementia and like a lot of people with dementia she’s starting to get a little paranoid,” her son said. “She might be hiding because she’s getting paranoid. … Please look at your storage spaces and cars.”
Investigators suspect she may have sought out some sort of shelter such as garage, Steinle said.
“Check any garages or sheds,” Steinle said.
Investigators also asked residents to check their home surveillance and dash-cam video for any potential glimpses of the missing woman.
“She has four children, nine grandchildren,” Brian Airth said. “She moved here 27 years ago. … She loves to hike and golf.”
Airth is “very friendly” but has become a bit more “reclusive” of late, her son said. She has never gone missing before, her son said.
“It’s a first,” he said. “We were absolutely on our guard watching her… These symptoms have just popped up. … Sometimes she’s very coherent and sometimes she’s not.”
Airth is white, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds, has light gray hair and hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a yellow and white shirt, a black sweater with white sparkles and uses a black cane.
Anyone who sees Airth or knows her whereabouts was asked to call the Sheriff Department’s dispatch at 714-647-7000.
The Silver Alert program was established by the CHP to issue and coordinate alerts involving the unexplained or suspicious disappearance of elderly, developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired individuals.