Search and rescue teams found a woman’s body in San Juan Capistrano Monday, near the area where a 94-year-old was reported missing last week.
Although authorities are waiting for official identification from the coroner’s office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department released a statement on social media that investigators believe the deceased person is Shirley “Jean” Airth, who had been reported missing.
The body was found about 11: 30 a.m., and as of Monday afternoon, the OCSD said at that point: “We do not believe there is anything suspicious about her death.”
“On behalf of the OC Sheriff’s Department, we’d like to offer our condolences to Jean’s family and thank the many teams who assisted in the search, the city, and the public,” OCSD tweeted.
On a Facebook page titled “Bring Jean Home!” a post on Monday evening by Morgan Trusiak stated: “My family and I cannot thank you all enough for the love, prayers and support over the last week. They have found my Grandma Jean. May she rest in peace knowing how much she was loved by her family and this incredible community. Hold your loved ones tight this holiday season.”
Airth was reported missing after she was last seen leaving her home for one of her regular walks at about 5 p.m. on Dec. 18 in the 32000 block of Via Buena, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
The California Highway Patrol issued a Silver Alert for Airth on Dec. 19.
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Airth, who lived with her family, was “known for going out for walks,” Sgt. Scott Steinle of the OCSD reported.
Her son, Brian Airth, told reporters at a news conference last Tuesday that his mother was recently starting to show signs of dementia.
“She currently has dementia and like a lot of people with dementia she’s starting to get a little paranoid,” he said at the time.
“She might be hiding because she’s getting paranoid.”
Investigators asked residents to check their home surveillance and dash-cam video for any potential glimpses of the missing woman.
“She has four children, nine grandchildren,” her son said. “She moved here 27 years ago. She loves to hike and golf.” He also said his mom was “very friendly” but had become a bit more “reclusive” of late.
She had never gone missing before, her son said.
“It’s a first,” he said. “We were absolutely on our guard watching her… These symptoms have just popped up. … Sometimes she’s very coherent and sometimes she’s not.”
Airth was described as white, 5-feet-6 inches tall, 160 pounds, with light gray hair and hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a yellow and white shirt, a black sweater with white sparkles and using a black cane.
The Silver Alert program was established by the CHP to issue and coordinate alerts involving the unexplained or suspicious disappearance of elderly, developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired individuals.