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