Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Doug Harlow email@example.com
Relatives of a Tennessee woman missing since hiking in July on the Appalachian Trail in Franklin County announced a $15,000 reward Tuesday for information on her whereabouts.
Her husband, George Largay, and his family are offering the reward to underscore support for the search efforts of Maine game wardens and state police and to try to generate new case information, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
"My job, if you will, is a crusade to find and bring home my wife, Gerry, my wife of 42 years, my best friend of 45 years," George Largay said in a video released by the department. "And I'm hopeful that the $15,000 award will generate additional leads for the authorities to help find Gerry."
Geraldine Largay, 66, was last heard from on July 22, when she sent a text message to her husband. The next day, she failed to show up for a scheduled meeting with him in Wyman Township.
She was last seen wearing a reddish-colored pullover shirt, tan shorts, a blue hat, and a black and green backpack. She is an experienced hiker who was prepared with supplies. She had no previous incidents during her hike leading up to her disappearance.
In a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon, George Largay said a memorial service for his wife is set for Oct. 12 at St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Atlanta, Ga., where the couple lived for 11 years and have many friends.
Largay said the timing of the reward comes as the most recent of the searches was completed on Friday, yielding no clues about what happened to his wife. He said he does not suspect foul play.
"Since the previous searches have not uncovered any kind of clues — it's like Gerry vanished — I started thinking in terms of what kind of a next step would make sense, and that was the impetus for coming up with a reward for information that actually leads to finding Gerry."
He said he and his family need to know they are doing everything they can to support "the phenomenal efforts" by Maine authorities in the search for his wife.
"I think (Lt.) Kevin Adam is representative of how personal and professional this is to everybody up there," he said. "I looked in their eyes. ... You just know it's personal. It's not just a job, and that's comfort to our family."
George Largay's longtime friend, David Fox, of Nashville, Tenn., a public relations professional, said the family has been working closely with the Maine Warden Service and Lt. Kevin Adam in particular. He said there was a search of the trail area as recently as Friday and that winter is fast approaching in Maine.
"Now, with winter coming on and the leaves getting ready to fall and the snow getting ready to fall, it seemed like there needed to be a big, strong push before the end of the summer, so that's the reason for the timing," Fox said.
The Maine Warden Service was notified of Largay's disappearance on July 24 and started searches and investigation that day.
The search widened with tracking dogs, ground search teams, a helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft, all-terrain vehicles and horses.
More than 100 searchers were involved in the search on some of the search days. Since the search was scaled back after Aug. 4, local search groups, tracking dogs and game wardens have conducted six more ground searches, according to a news release from the Maine Warden Service.
No clues such as clothing, hiker accessories or backpacking equipment that can be identified as belonging to Largay have been found.
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