Missing Virginia woman found alive in forest after 8 days

May 23, 2022 GMT

SIMPLICITY, Va. (AP) — A 69-year-old Virginia woman who went missing last week was found alive Monday in a dense pine forest less than a mile from her home, the local sheriff announced.

The search for Aletha Gee Walton began May 17, when her family discovered she was missing and alerted authorities, Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted online. Walton was last seen at her home in the Simplicity area two days earlier, officials said.

Search and rescue organizations and agencies from around the state joined the search for Walton and she was found about 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) from her home in a densely wooded pine forest with a thick underbrush on Monday morning, eight days after she was last seen, the sheriff’s office said. Walton was assessed by medical personnel immediately and taken to a hospital for further evaluation.

Authorities did not give additional details about her condition or say why she was in the woods in the first place.

“This has been incredibly challenging, but we are thrilled to be able to provide the family the best possible outcome,” Sheriff Tony Epps said in a statement. “I have spoken with the family and they relayed their appreciation to everyone involved in the search for their loved one.”