OMAK — All last spring, and then through the summer and fall, Joanne Lord figured she’d get a call one day with news of her father.
Peter Greene, a 79-year-old man with Alzheimer’s, had walked away from Apple Springs Senior Living in Omak on Jan. 2, and despite several days of searching — including the use of bloodhounds and questioning people in the Omak area — police found no clues of his whereabouts.
Lord, who lives in Texas, figured he’d probably wandered off, and that once the snow melted, once people started hiking the hillsides, once hunters were combing the countryside, someone would come upon her father.
A year later, she’s still waiting.
“I think about my dad every day,” she said this week. “Part of me wants to devote my life to looking for him. But I’ve got three kids that need me. I can’t do that.”
Police say the case is a mystery. There were no signs of foul play in Greene’s room at the assisted living facility, and no indication he had been forcibly removed. They believe he walked out the door.
But what he did after that is anyone’s guess.
“He could have wandered off. He could have been driven out of the county. He could have fallen and hit his head. He could be living someplace else, and made a new identity for himself. There are just so many possibilities, it’s really hard to speculate,” said Omak Police Chief Larry Schreckengast. He said Greene’s information is in a national database, so if he turned up anywhere, Omak police would be notified.
Lord said she can’t really imagine her father getting in a vehicle with someone else and leaving Omak. She said with the level that his Alzheimer’s had reached, she can’t imagine he would be able to take care of himself on the streets, although she’s called homeless shelters around the state.
But her father did like to walk, she said, and he was physically very healthy and walked for long distances when he lived in California. She thinks he walked away, and just kept walking.
She said she has resigned herself to the likelihood that her father died. And when she thinks about it, she knows his quality of life was deteriorating rapidly.
“He was declining at such a rate, it probably would have been a really tough year for him,” she said. Mostly, she said, it’s difficult for his family because they don’t know what happened.
“When he walked out that door, was that in a moment of clarity, of lucidity? Or was that a moment of anger? Those are some of the things I’ve been dealing with and struggling with,” Lord said.
She’s hoping that people who wander around the hills near Omak will keep looking for any sign of him. “I think he’s there, and I would like to have his remains recovered,” she said.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512