Search expands for missing woman

BERKELEY — Hundreds of people have joined in a search to find 72-year-old Julia Madsen, who vanished June 25 after an evening stroll on the beach in South Seaside Park. Initially, the searchers hoped to find her alive. Now, they hope to offer closure to her family.

Search teams have assembled with law enforcement and volunteers in a near-constant effort to find the woman who was reported be in an early stage of Alzheimer's disease.

Recently, a national group was brought in to help. State Police Detective Sgt. John Donegan contacted Tim Miller of Texas Equusearch, an organization involved in searching for Natalie Holloway, an American woman whose sensational disappearance in Aruba has never been solved.

Donegan said he called Miller for advice on conducting a search over terrain like Island Beach, and Miller volunteered to come to New Jersey.

The search efforts have been exhaustive.

In addition to combing nearly every inch of Island Beach State Park, authorities have collected hundreds of aerial photographs using a photo-equipped drone plane. Their efforts have led them to believe that she is not on Island Beach State Park property.

"It was an amazing effort, and an impressive show of support," said the missing woman's son, Guy Madsen.

Madsen left her son's home on 22nd Avenue in South Seaside Park section of Berkeley the evening of June 25. Madsen's husband, Ed, was in the house when she said she was going out for a walk. Less than an hour later, Ed Madsen began looking for his wife and authorities became involved.

Berkeley police, the Ocean County sheriff's and prosecutor's offices, volunteers from fire companies, the Red Cross, the Central Jersey Search and Rescue and the New Jersey Park Police all have assisted in the search for her since her disappearance.

Photographs from the drone aircraft will be analyzed further in San Diego, where they will filter out colors and look specifically for the color pink, the color of the pants Madsen was wearing on the night she left, Donegan said.

They likely will go back and search those areas again. The State Police also put a cadaver-search dog on a boat to try to catch a scent in the wind off the bay, Donegan said.

Ginny Guilani, 50, went to high school in Rutherford with Guy Madsen and his sister Eileen. Her heart aches for the family, she said Friday while riding her bicycle on Island Beach, near where she summers.

Bill Paul, a volunteer firefighter with the Lavallette Fire Department, was out with four other members of his company on Friday, searching a quadrant of the brush on the bay side.

"This is what we do," Paul said.

Lavallette Assistant Fire Chief Joe Barraco said the task of searching is one that fire companies always join in.

"We are just out here trying to give some closure to the family one way, shape or another."

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