ST. MARTINVILLE — It's been twelve days since anyone has seen Albert Willis Junior of St. Martinville, but family members refuse to give up on search efforts. Detectives say that Willis left his home on Knight Street on the morning of June 18th wearing a red shirt, blue jean pants and brown shoes.
In a conversation with his family members, we learned that Willis suffers from dementia and has wandered from his home before, but always returns. The pressure of the search was felt immediately by his family when they realized he had disappeared after a few days.
"We go out every day looking for our brother," says Hilda Willis, Albert Willis' sister. "We haven't been eating or sleeping, we're just trying to find him, and all we want and need right now is for our brother to come back home to us."
Ricky Martin, the Chief of Police in St. Martinville, tells us that they have been searching for Willis since he was reported missing on June 18th; although, the missing persons report became a Silver Alert the day that KATC brought the alert to the attention of the chief and State Police.
"We were trying to obtain all of the information that we actually needed to issue the alert and it took us longer than normal to get all of that information," says Chief Martin. "It's nobody's fault, but sometimes the families doesn't think about all of that information right then and there when those things happen."
While police say that they searched basins, the bayous, and abandoned homes, no dogs were called in until 12 days into the search.
"We were supposed to have some K-9 units come out the night that he was missing, but I think they got tied up and were unable to come out," says Chief Martin. "We are extremely limited on K-9 units right now."
On Wednesday, Hilda and the rest of her family met with the St. Martinville Police Department to plan to expand the search efforts by calling in an outside search and rescue K-9 unit. The head of Atchafalaya Search and Rescue says that it is crucial to get dogs out on the scene as soon as possible to have a successful search and rescue. He says that everyday that passes by can add new challenges for the working dogs.
"We're just going to try and see if we can strike a track and get an odor and then we will just try to run it as far as the dogs will let us run it," says Terrell Bergeron, the President of Atchafalaya Search and Rescue. "It's hard doing this kind of work after this amount of time, but we're going to give it our best and see what we can do."
For now, Hilda is asking that the community continue to keep their eyes out and to contact the St. Martinville Police Department if they have any information about Willis' whereabouts.
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