Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 25, 2012

A year has passed: ‘We have not given up hope’ on finding Thomason

PRINCETON — A moment of silence has been scheduled Wednesday for a woman who disappeared a year ago this week after walking away from a local mental health center.

Barbara Thomason was 63 when she walked away from the Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center in Princeton on Sept. 26, 2011. An extensive search was conducted, but she has not been found.

There will be a moment of silence for Thomason at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the center, said Judy Akers, executive director at Southern Highlands.

“We continue to look,” Akers said Monday. “We have not given up hope. We certainly think about her on a regular basis and continue to have posters up, and hope that something will come up.”

Thomason, who was a day patient at Southern Highlands, had hidden from the staff in the past, but she was usually found within 10 minutes, investigators said at the time of her disappearance. Officers with the Princeton Police Department, Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police searched for Thomason. A Silver Alert, which signifies that an elderly person is missing, was issued at that time.

Now 64 years old, Thomason had very short gray hair when she left the mental health center. She was wearing a Virginia Tech T-shirt, blue jeans, tennis shoes, and a blue jacket. The sheriff’s department brought a bloodhound to the scene and the dog appeared to pick up a scent, but searchers could not determine if the dog had found a false trail or if Thomason had gotten into a vehicle.

“We have sightings from time to time,” Akers said. “Unfortunately, nothing has come to fruition, but we continue to get leads from time to time. We don’t want to give up hope that we will find her.”


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