Massive effort to locate missing woman
As midnight approached, and one last sweep in the vicinity of the Woodland Terrace at the Oaks facility, 1263 S. Cedar Crest Blvd., Allentown, failed to turn up any trace of missing resident, Audrey Penn, 78, searchers began to pack up their gear and head home with a sense they had not been able to do what they showed up to do.
Salisbury Township Police officers had been at it since 8 a.m. Aug. 23, after Woodlands Terrace personnel discovered Penn missing during an early morning bed check. Several police command officers, as well as Salisbury Township Police Department Chief Allen Stiles, were on scene interviewing anyone who might have seen the woman. Police conducted multiple searches in every room and closet in the building.
As 5 p.m. approached, Salisbury police contacted the Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department for search assistance. They were joined shortly thereafter by firefighter volunteers from Eastern Salisbury and Cetronia fire departments.
Search and rescue units, along with their canine trackers were summoned from Monroe, Lehigh, Chester and Bucks Counties. Britney Ruth, captain of Pocono Search & Rescue was on hand to coordinate search grids with police and Western Salisbury Fire Department Chief Joshua Wells.
Macungie Ambulance Corps responded with its critical response unit and an all-terrain vehicle. Corps personnel provided rehab services for the searchers and picked up food and drink from the nearby Penn Pizza restaurant.
Search and rescue canine trackers circled the area and into the dense woods nearby trying to pick up a scent they could track.
Western Salisbury Fire Department firefighter Jonathan Al-Khal, acknowledged to be one of the area’s top drone flight control technicians, took to the control console of the Salisbury Township’s Police Department drone to circle in ever-widening circles around the medical office park in which the Woodland Terrace facility sits, and along the nearby Lehigh Fish Hatchery and Little Lehigh area.
As darkness fell, the drone’s infrared heat-seeking feature was turned on. The feature lead to Al-Khal seeing the heat signature of a search canine and its handler walking in nearby woods. Stiles said such search efforts, as well as police tactical situations, was why the force had purchased the equipment.
Penn’s family maintained a vigil nearby, getting periodic updates of the unfolding search effort. Prayers went up from the family, with Western Salisbury Fire Department Chaplain Rodney Wells offering comfort and prayers Penn would be successfully reunited with her concerned loved ones.
Finally, late in the evening, Stiles told the family searchers had done all they could and the effort was being suspended until the next day. Detective Kevin Kress, Stiles said, would remain behind to interview those coming on shift at 11 p.m., the shift who had last seen Penn earlier in the day, to try and uncover information that might be helpful.
Penn’s Bethlehem church family and friends conducted a rally for her safe return and traveled to the Woodland Terrace area to hand out missing person posters to passersby along Cedar Crest Boulevard near the Cedar Crest campus of the Lehigh Valley Health Network hospital.
The parent company of the care facility has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Penn’s safe return.
Anyone with information on Penn’s whereabouts should dial 911 or call 610-437-5252.
As this edition of The Bethlehem Press was being put to bed over the weekend, Penn still had not been found.