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Patricia Murad, missing in Japan since April 10, is believed to have been last seen wearing this jacket Image: Hartford Courant
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Family of missing Connecticut woman suspends search in Japan after almost two months

34 Comments
By LORI RILEY, Hartford Courant

The family of Pattie Wu-Murad of Storrs, Connecticut, who has been missing since April 10 after setting out for a hike in Japan, has stopped actively searching for her but her husband Kirk Murad said they are still not giving up.

“We’re going to keep working with the police, keep doing what we can to keep the case open, keep looking for volunteers in Japan, keep looking for any clue, anything we might have missed,” Murad said Sunday night from Singapore.

“We’re certainly not giving up. But with typhoon season and running out of money…hopefully something comes up. We’re not going to let it become a cold case; it’s certainly slowing down, though.”

Multiple search and rescue teams from Japan and the U.S. have combed the 11.2-mile trail and surrounding areas where Wu-Murad, an experienced hiker, started off for a hike the morning of April 10. They have found no trace of her and the police have found no evidence of foul play.

Kirk and Pattie’s daughter Murphy Murad, who lives in Singapore, flew to Japan on May 24 to meet with a fourth wave of search and rescue specialists from the U.S. In the meantime, a Japanese search and rescue team had been looking for Wu-Murad since mid-April when the Murads arrived in the country.

After five days of searching, the family decided to stop “due to the underwhelming amount of evidence found,” Murphy wrote on their GoFundMe page, which raised $200,725 to fund search and rescue teams and the family’s travel to Japan. Murphy wrote that the page will no longer accept donations after June 10, which marks two months after her mother’s disappearance.

“Typhoon season is coming,” Kirk said. “We had a five-day window where we knew it wouldn’t be too much rain. We knew we had to do it or we’d have to wait for October.

“It was most of the same people. They coordinated their efforts with the Mountain Works (search and rescue) folks in Japan. Filled in gaps, looked in drainage areas that hadn’t been searched yet, just did a thorough job, just so we could say we looked left, right, sideways, under, over.”

The Japanese search and rescue team told the Murads they would continue to search voluntarily when they could.

“They’re really committed,” Murad said.

The Murads are still trying to get data from Wu-Murad’s cell phone, which so far they’ve been unable to do. According to Murphy’s post, “the telecommunication companies have said they are unable to track Patricia’s E-sim because it is not a Japanese number.”

“There’s got to be something,” Murad said. “Cell phones are always searching out the nearest tower even if you’re not using your phone. If her phone was on, up until the battery died, there should be a tower that we can reference and we could pinpoint the search a little bit more.”

Murad said he’s coming home from Singapore in “a couple of weeks,” as is his daughter.

“I never thought I’d come home without (Pattie),” he said. “I just thought we’d find her.

“Getting on a plane to come home to Connecticut is not going to be a fun trip.”

Wu-Murad, 60, was retired from United Technologies and was an experienced hiker who had traveled all over the world. She had been in Japan for over a month and was set to hike the Kumano Kodo trail in a mountainous area of central Japan. The hostel owner walked outside with her and pointed her to the trailhead, which was about a quarter-mile from the hostel where she had stayed the night before, and that was the last time anyone reported seeing her.

Murad had spoken to his wife the week before and she told him she might be out of touch for a few days because she was in a remote area so when he didn’t hear from her for 3-4 days, he wasn’t worried. He got a call from the U.S. Embassy on April 14 telling him she was missing, and the local police had been looking for her and he immediately rushed to Japan with Murphy and son Bryce.

“It’s so heartbreaking and frustrating we’ve done all this, we’ve had the best people on it, we’ve had the best technology and there’s not a clue,” Murad said. “There’s no one thing that says, ‘Yeah, she’s definitely in this area.’ There’s no one thing that says, ‘Yeah, she definitely fell or she definitely took a wrong turn or she definitely was abducted.’

“There’s nothing. We have no idea.”

Murphy thanked the family’s supporters in her update.

“The amount of work we were able to accomplish would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our family, friends, community and the remarkable individuals we encountered in Totsukawa,” Murphy wrote.

Then, addressing her missing mother, she wrote: “All these people came together because of the profound influence you have had on our family and the impact you have had on so many different people around the world. … Thank you for instilling in us the strength and resilience to keep moving forward each and every day without you by our side. … We love you Mama.”

© Hartford Courant

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
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Unsolved mystery after extensive searching.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Come on. There has to be a solution to this issue. It might help and then again it might not, but you have to get this data.

The Murads are still trying to get data from Wu-Murad’s cel phone, which so far they’ve been unable to do. According to Murphy’s post, “the telecommunication companies have said they are unable to track Patricia’s E-sim because it is not a Japanese number.”

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Sad, I hope they will find something, anything that will give them an answer and peace of mind.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Didn’t another foreign woman who came to Japan a few years ago alone disappear under similar circumstances?

Is it possible they both chose to disappear deliberately?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Did anyone actually see her on the trail? this is a popular route especially in May. Do we have any idea if she was actually on this trail at any time and how far did she get? The first part of the leg she was on passes through a wide swathe of Forestry Commission land. This land is crisscrossed with logging paths that aren't marked on maps as they change. If I was going to get lost that's where it would happen. Did anyone see het past this point?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The issue about the mobile phone may be one that is lost in translation. The cell phone coverage maps of the three operators show only weak coverage for the immediate area around the ryokan where she stayed last and none for the mountains around it. I myself have been in the area and can confirm that there is no coverage almost anywhere. It's quite different from mountainous areas, say, in Nagano where you may not have reception inside a valley but almost always higher up.

So my reading is that the operators may have searched for her number in their logs, but found nothing, and then in typical Japanese fashion blame it on her number being foreign, rather than just admitting that there is no coverage in the area. It is also conceivable that she didn't switch on her phone or left it in airplane mode because hiking for a long day without any coverage makes the phone constantly search and drain the battery needlessly.

I do recommend carrying an emergency beacon, bought in the US, when hiking in remote areas in Japan. All it needs is satelite reception. Of course it rests on the assumption that the person in distress is still able to activate it.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

It may be that she wanted to disappear or may be running from something or someone. Maybe.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

One of my Japanese students told a story about a friend who had gone hiking in Japan. She found a spot under a tree with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. Upon looking down, however, she found the skeletal remains of a man. He had hung himself from the which she now stood under. Over time, the rope broke and the man had not been found until she’d come across his skeleton.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

P.S.: Another piece of advice to hikers: carry at least one GPS with pre-loaded maps, ideally including Open Streetmaps which actually shows most hiking trails in Japan, including this particular one. Sign posting in the mountains can be poor/non-existant, and I have got lost myself temporarily, though always found back to the right trail thanks to my GPSs (I always carry two). Also a good idea to get the printed Japanese hiking maps, even if your Japanese may be poor, but at least they are visual, show almost all trails and giving walking times. Absolutely essential for myself.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

There’s got to be something,” Murad said. “Cell phones are always searching out the nearest tower even if you’re not using your phone. If her phone was on, up until the battery died, there should be a tower that we can reference and we could pinpoint the search a little bit more.”

This is a major misconception. Depending upon the carrier and settings, a cell phone will typically send a "ping" out once every 30 minutes or so, it is not constantly "roaming" as the old cells phones did.

If she had an old type cell phone, the battery would probably be dead within one day or less, due to the roaming.

I would agree however about being able to at least single out phones that accessed any particular tower or cell, even if they are "foreign" SIM's. Even without access to the actual number, they should be able to note the number of "unknown" SIMS that accessed it, and narrow it down. It's not like the area was Tokyo, and probably an impossibility, but a mountainous region with probably few "foreign" or unknown SIMs.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

There isn't much point in having your phone on if there is little signal and few opportunities to recharge it. I keep mine turned off when I am not using it in JP. However, it may be wise to electronically 'check in', by turning your phone on sometimes, just so it pings a few towers. Foreign sim or virtual sim, it should still leave a trace. Police sensibly assume accident or abduction in such cases.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Didn’t another foreign woman who came to Japan a few years ago alone disappear under similar circumstances?

A French woman vanished in Nikko a number of years ago after setting out from her accommodation for a walk. No trace ever found.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

A few here seems to be suggesting suicide. It is more plausible than abduction imho.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Most suicide victims leave a note or message.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

A few here seems to be suggesting suicide. It is more plausible than abduction imho.

Right, plan a suicide, in a foreign country, carry it out and at the same time manage to hide YOUR body so well that professionals can not find it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Attack from a wild animal ?

I would personally never ever accept to let my wife, daughter, son, or anyone I care for go to a foreign country on her/his own to trek in the unknown.

Nature taking its toll. No one is invicible, espeially at 60. Makes me think of the movie "Into the wild"

I sincerely hope a hiker would find her remains for her family to mourn. And hope too there is no serial kidnapper...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Her phone was maybe simply off.

and then in typical Japanese fashion blame it on her number being foreign, rather than just admitting that there is no coverage in the area

Poor knowledge of Japan and the Japanese

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There are a lot of possibilities out there. Speculation is rampant but the fact is that worldwide many people disappear without any trace regularly. Let's hope the family can get some form of closure.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Really surprised the cellphone company says they have no GPS information from her phone because it is in a cell network in Japan. Doesn't make sense to me. I thought all cellphone if connected to any network were always pinging location via GPS.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As far as I can tell, there is river not far from her route. I wonder if any attempt was made to search that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

She could have Alzheimer's desease that has lost her memory and go lost.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Every possible path and location was searched more than once.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If she did end up in the river, her body could be quite far downstream by now.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Attack from a wild animal ?

Right, and leave behind no evidence what so ever? Even a "human" animal would loave something behind

0 ( +3 / -3 )

CrashTestDummyToday  03:01 pm JST

Really surprised the cellphone company says they have no GPS information from her phone because it is in a cell network in Japan. Doesn't make sense to me. I thought all cellphone if connected to any network were always pinging location via GPS.

That is incorrect, gps is not involved at all. Cell phone networks determine the location based on the distances to different towers. In the 5G era this locationing has been improved and can give accurate location.

BUT as many people have stated and you can check the coverage maps for operators online, IF there is no coverage then there is also no trace.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Often thought such stories had an element of "in house" mystery about them.

But a kind of similar thing happened to my lovely old neighbour 3 years ago. (I wrote about this before)

She went with friends - 3 ladies - to visit a temple and onsen area in nearby mountain (hills) area.

Went for a short walk along a side path to look at flowers and was never seen again.

Not an isolated area with fair amount of people coming and going. It is forested but we're not talking deep alps here. And the temple village precinct was right there - like right there.

Just vanished with no trace. Police searched, locals searched, others searched but nothing.

She was mid 70s but active and pretty strong. Her husband was distraught and has progressed into dementia quite quickly after that.

Now I understand such strange things, even such unbelievable things can and do happen.

And seems like no answers are not that uncommon.

I hope there is some positive news about the woman Pattie.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The classic japanese and japanese police run around that the Wu-Murad family are dealing with is maddening. And that is an undertstatement.

I feel so sorry for them.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The police made a very extensive search for the woman.

https://dailyvoice.com/connecticut/litchfield/search-ends-for-missing-connecticut-woman-after-monthslong-nightmare/

3 ( +4 / -1 )

mountaingrillToday  08:14 am JST

Did anyone actually see her on the trail? this is a popular route especially in May. Do we have any idea if she was actually on this trail at any time and how far did she get?

I wouldn't call this a particularly popular trail. I've done the full multiday Kohechi trail and seen less than 10 people in total. May would be one of the peak seasons, but it was still April 10th when she went missing. They have interviewed several trail runners who were on (or possibly on) the same trail that day, but none of them saw her. They have extensively searched both the main trail and an alternate trail she could have accidentally taken. It's still a tragic complete mystery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've walked the Kumano Kodo alone on severall occasions, and it is so well marked one would have to try very hard to get lost.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The police made a very extensive search for the woman.

No they didn't.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

CPTOMO

   The police made a very extensive search for the woman.

> No they didn't.

Yes, they did, and was reported in the media.

"All efforts to find a woman who went missing during a trip to Japan ended after the largest search effort police ever performed in the region turned up an "underwhelming" amount of evidence, according to her family. "

Specialist search teams were also used.

Guess go and take some flower photos.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What a tough decision to make, it must be very hard on the family to give up searching. I hope that locals and the police will keep an eye hopefully they will find a clue!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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