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Updated 4:46pm - Sep 16, 2014

Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Still no sign of man after 7 months

Still no sign of man after 7 months

By Karen Wilkinson

Triplicate staff writer

Seven months after disappearing, Gene Pillow's family say they no

longer hold hope that he's alive.

"We all feel that he's dead, that's our gut instinct," said Valeta

Kieny, Pillow's oldest of three daughters, from her home in

Placerville. "But we still haven't claimed him dead because we still

don't really know."

Pillow, who suffers dementia and Alzhiemer's disease, was reported

missing seven months ago by his in-home caregivers after he didn't

return after taking a walk along Parkway Drive.

Pillow's caregivers, Connie Blagden and James Sanders, who noticed

him gone the morning of June 16, reported him missing to the Del

Norte County Sheriff Office at 4 p.m.

"We thought he had just walked around like he always does," Sanders

said. "He'd go off and then come back — we just thought that's what

it was."

By the time officials were notified of Pillow's disappearance,

however, "He had a lot of time on us," said Del Norte County Sheriff

Dean Wilson.

County search and rescue volunteers combed the area Pillow was last

seen several times following his disappearance. Some of those

searches included dogs trained to find cadavers, but turned up nothing.

The dogs did pick up scents on Parkway Drive and a side street, Kieny

said, "but it didn't go into the woods or anything."

Missing person notices were also sent to state and nation-wide law

enforcement agencies, Wilson said, to no avail.

The search didn't stop with law enforcement, however. Pillow's

daughters and family members travelled to Crescent City to do some

work of their own.

Kieny and her daughter drove from their Placerville home the next

morning. Two days after frustrating conversations with law

enforcement and Pillow's caregivers, the family searched the area

themselves and spoke with neighbors.

"Everywhere we were going we were getting little bits of information

from people," Kieny said.

Recollections of Pillow wandering the streets "almost on a daily

basis" and sometimes at night, only to be taken home by a police

escort surfaced, further infuriating Pillow's family, who weren't

told of his behavior.

The following Monday, Pillow's second oldest daughter Geni Pillow,

and her daughter, arrived from New Jersey to aid in his recovery.

Along with friends they made along the way, Pillow's daughters and

granddaughters made and posted missing person flyers, contacted local

media and organized another foot search.

"We really traipsed in the woods that time — areas off the road and

down in gullies and didn't find anything," Kieny said.

Geni also contacted two psychics — one in New Jersey and the another

in Placerville — who had similar readings, that he was intentionally

hit over the head and was laying in the woods near water, she said.

One psychic even drew an image of a man she thought Pillow got into a

pickup truck with. Geni gave the picture, along with an incomplete

Oregon license plate number the psychic recalled, to authorities.

That information led officials nowhere, so Geni spoke with a private

investigator in Brookings in October. The P.I. told her there's not

much more he'd be able to do.

She then had her father's image and description posted on the online

"America's Most Wanted" missing persons section.

"I just wish we could find him so we know what happened to him," said

Geni, who now lives in Placerville with Kieny. "I still have a

feeling that it was a crime, that someone did something."

But the lingering feeling that not enough was initially done to

locate their elderly father hasn't dissolved.

"The elders in our country don't get the respect they deserve," Kieny

said, adding that missing children seem to receive more attention and

responsiveness than missing elders.

"(Elderly) don't have to be left out in the woods to die because

someone doesn't want to get off their butt and look for them," she said.

Without any luck after seven months, Pillow's daughters simply want

closure so they're not constantly imagining the worst.

"It's just sad the end of his life had to be like this," Kieny said.

"That's going to be the story of his life — the way it ended."

 


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