Professional search group hunts for Alzheimer's patient

Maria Llamas walked away from Poteet Flea Market Nov. 20

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Texas Equusearch, a group known nationwide for searching for missing people, is heading up the hunt for Maria Llamas, a local woman who has Alzheimer’s disease.

The 69-year-old woman wandered away from her husband at the Poteet Flea Market Nov. 20.  Surveillance video revealed she walked off the property and headed south on the access road near Highway 16.

Relatives initially launched their own searches with help from volunteers and the Heidi Search Center. Llamas’ daughter, Margarita, said they have had no luck in locating her. She said they welcome the extra assistance they’re getting from the professional search group now.

“As you can imagine, our worry and our exhaustion, we're just tired,” she said. “Not eating like we're supposed to. Not getting enough rest. So we appreciate them coming out and helping us.”

Gene Robinson and a few fellow members of Texas Equusearch arrived early Thursday morning at the makeshift command post at Highway 16 near Applewhite Road, ready to put their boots and other tools to work.

“We use horses. The ATVs play a big part, and tomorrow, we'll be bringing in drones,” he said.

Robinson carefully sectioned off parcels of land on a map and then separated volunteers into groups to conduct the searches. Robinson said the plan was to cover a lot of the same ground that Llamas’ relatives already searched, but much more thoroughly.

"We're going try to go as deeply as we can into each one of those to ensure that Maria is not in those areas,” Robinson said. "With an Alzheimer’s patient, you have to look at every little ledge, every little bush, every little place that they could crawl in and try to find shelter."

Robinson said volunteers are still a big part of the effort and still very much needed.

Rachel Perez decided to answer the call for help after hearing about Llamas’ struggle with Alzheimer’s. The disease also affected her family.

"Unfortunately, we had to place my dad in memory care, and if that was not the result of it, I think my family and I would've searched, too," she said.

Perez said she continues to hope for the best for Llamas and her family.

Margarita Llamas’ hope is that the search effort will end soon.

“That they find something or they see something that we haven’t seen so far,” she said. “Our goal is to bring my mother home.”

Anyone who wants to help with the search can show up at the command post at Highway 16 and Applewhite Road. The family also has set up a Facebook page under the name of Maria Jesus Llamas with information on how to help.

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