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Search for woman widens

Fri., Sept. 28, 2007

The search for a missing Spokane woman will resume today with out-of-town family, friends, police and some strangers – but few leads.

A helicopter, dogs, motorcycle officers and nearly 40 volunteers searched areas around Dragoon Creek Park in north Spokane County on Thursday.

Fliers are going out, and family is spreading the word.

“My daughter has lived in Spokane for five years. I live in Ohio,” said an emotional Meloney Hall, Wheelock’s mother. “But I’m not supposed to be here when she’s (not here). Please make her here when I’m here. Bring her to me.”

Amy Wheelock, 26, left her apartment in the 300 block of East Wedgewood Avenue Saturday night, tersely telling her roommate, “I’m going for a walk,” said Katie Smith, who has lived with Wheelock for four months.

Police have received reports of someone fitting the woman’s description walking north on Division Street near the Northpointe Plaza shopping center, near the Dragoon Creek Campground and, most recently, on Deer Park-Milan Road.

She left her car, purse and cell phone and has missed church, a doctor’s appointment and work. Wheelock was last seen wearing a green T-shirt, blue jeans and possibly flip-flops.

Wheelock, who was diagnosed as bipolar in 2002, had been withdrawn in the week before she disappeared, friends and family said. But she’s never disappeared like this, they said.

Hall flew in from Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday to start searching for her daughter. Hall was joined by two of her sisters, from Alabama and Arizona. Another aunt will arrive Saturday from Texas.

On Thursday, the trio gathered at Dragoon Creek Campground with other family members, friends and people who just felt compelled to help. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane police arrived soon after.

Sheldon Georgiades, of Springdale, brought his basset hound, Jackson. He heard about the missing woman on the news.

“I’ve used him at home to search for animals, never humans, but he’s good,” Georgiades said. “I came to help, not hinder.”

After the Sheriff’s Office search and rescue crew arrived, a saggy-faced Jackson was turned away. Longer-legged search dogs were on the way. But Georgiades was asked to hand out fliers with Wheelock’s picture.

Smith brought a towel, a bra, two pillow cases and a T-shirt from their apartment to help the dogs get a scent. Smith said she was careful not to spread her own scent when picking up the items.

“I used a fork, put gloves on and pulled my hair back,” she said.

According to Hall, it was Wheelock’s roommate who first reported her missing.

Wheelock, who volunteers in a lab at Sacred Heart Medical Center, once served in the U.S. Air Force but has lived in Spokane since 2002, when she moved here to be closer to her father.

He was also helping with the search.

“We encourage all people who live along Highway 395 to walk their property,” said Bob Wheelock, a retired Dayton police sergeant.

Spokane police and the Sheriff’s Office joined the search about 11 a.m. Thursday.

“Since Sunday morning I’ve been in contact with her dad,” said Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. “We didn’t have enough information to start searching until today.”

The search on Thursday concluded as darkness fell, but the family set up a headquarters at a Deer Park Subway store, Hall said. “Anyone who wants to can come to help, talk to the family or whatever.”

“I need help finding my daughter,” Hall said. “We’ll be there every night from 6 to 10 p.m. until she’s found or we go home.”


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