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Witness Report Triggers Shift in Search for Elderly Pacifica Woman

A witness told police they saw a woman matching the description of 76-year-old Maria “Marlies”Jansen walking westbound on the 1500 block of Rosita Road at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Police have shifted their area of focus in their search for a based on information gleaned from a witness account Thursday night.

A witness told police they saw a woman matching the description of missing 76-year-old Maria “Marlies” Jansen on the 1500 block of Rosita Road at about 5 p.m. The witness told police the woman was walking westbound.

The sighting is  about a half mile southwest of where they’d assumed she’d gone missing on the 900 block of Park Pacifica Avenue, and about two hours after she was last seen by her husband, authorities said.

“We’ve kind of hit the reset button” Pacifica police Sgt. D. Wachtelborn told Patch.

“We’ve shifted the focus from the area we’ve been searching the past two and a half days to the area that coincides where recent sighting.”

Wachtelborn confirmed a that Jansen likely suffers from early dementia.

“Basically, it’s an unconfirmed diagnosis, but according to the family she’s showing signs of early dementia,” he said.

Police continued to comb the rugged hillside area in a search that is now in its third day, tapping multiple law enforcement agencies for mutual aid assistance.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, along with Sheriff’s deputies from Alameda and Monterey counties have aided in a search that’s included infrared-equipped aircraft, mounted units, K-9 units, bloodhounds, and other trailing dogs.

“We’ve pulled out every stop imaginable,” Wachtelborn said.

The search for the missing woman began Wednesday eveving has continued overnight, with 83 searchers from multilple agencies working all hours through the first two days. Up to 40 searchers will work today’s search, Wachtelborn said.

Despite Jansen’s likely disoriented mental state, police believe there is a chance that she’s still alive. She’s described as an avid hiker who is in excellent physical condition for a woman her age.

“A lot of people seem to feel if she’s not found within the first 24 hours she’s simply done for, but that’s not the case,” Wachtelborn said.

Police believe Jansen could have found shelter in a shed or unlocked car, and may have found a water hose. They believe she can survive on her own at least up to four days.

“She may be confused and not be able to get home but still be able to care for herself,” Wachtelborn said.

“It’s entirely possible that’s she’s OK.”

But police acknowledge that time is running out, and that Janesn’s mental condition, her age, the difficult terrain and the frigid overnight temperatrures present formidable challenges.

The window “is narrowing and that’s why we’re continuing to reach out to allying agencies,” Wachtelborn said.

“We’ve really strechted San Mateo County (Sheriff’s Department’s search and rescue teams) past their limits. A lot of them are still here but they’re exhausted.”

Jansen is a 5-foot-5 100-pound Caucasian with brown hair and brown eyes. She may be wearing yellow “croc” type  garden shoes and a dark colored jacket.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Pacifica Police Department (650) 738-7314.

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Spootie August 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Hey DW remember about 7 years ago at Safeway?? Old guy cone in wants food, I say how much money do you have? He is in khakis a polo and boat shoes covered in mud he had leaves in his har and dirty hands. I figured he was a lost old guy from the old folks home. I called the police you came out and after asking questions you told me not to let him leave. 20 min later you came back and said you'll never guess where he is from?" I said the old folks home. You said yes in Gilroy. Needless to say he got to go home but I guess the best part was the daughter taking the bus all the way out from Giltoy to thank me for calling. You know what I remember was the look on her face and the fact I never heard about it on the news. Gilroy is not that far away, he had been missing for 7 days. Where would he be if I had not called the Pacifica Police Department, and where we he be if DW had not taken tome to do his job?? I hope we find Maria even if it in San Francisco or Concord or Gilroy.
Spootie August 16, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Hey DW remember about 7 years ago at Safeway?? Old guy cone in wants food, I say how much money do you have? He is in khakis a polo and boat shoes covered in mud he had leaves in his har and dirty hands. I figured he was a lost old guy from the old folks home. I called the police you came out and after asking questions you told me not to let him leave. 20 min later you came back and said you'll never guess where he is from?" I said the old folks home. You said yes in Gilroy. Needless to say he got to go home but I guess the best part was the daughter taking the bus all the way out from Giltoy to thank me for calling. You know what I remember was the look on her face and the fact I never heard about it on the news. Gilroy is not that far away, he had been missing for 7 days. Where would he be if I had not called the Pacifica Police Department, and where we he be if DW had not taken tome to do his job?? I hope we find Maria even if it in San Francisco or Concord or Gilroy.
Laurel August 24, 2012 at 09:10 AM
That's a great story (in the comment above)! I just wonder if this dear lady carried a cell phone and if she did would it have had a signal where she would hike? If you have loved ones~ whether young or elderly that go hiking in remote areas, insist they go with a buddy, a dog, or have a gps enabled cell. This is such an awful thing to happen and we all need to understand that being out in nature can be very dangerous.

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