Seven new billboards went up in the Nordegg area over the weekend imploring the public for help in finding a missing Edmonton scientist.
Anina Hundsdoerfer, 32, was last seen on March 22. Her last known location was near the intersection of 99th Avenue and 108th Street in Edmonton.
Her blue Toyota Echo hatchback was found locked and abandoned three days later in a remote area along the Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy 734) near Nordegg.
Rocky Mountain House RCMP members have been searching the area where the car was found on foot and by helicopter but had to delay their search last week due to bad weather and extensive snow cover.
They resumed the search on Monday with five members and police dogs scouring the woods, said Sgt. Mike Numan, and plan to continue looking where they can.
“The problem is we don’t have an indication of direction or timeline or even if she’s there. That’s another thing we’re struggling with — did she get a ride away from her car? We don’t know. We’re just trying to cover all our bases right now.”
Numan noted the snow is chest-high in some areas, making it extremely difficult for members to conduct a search.
The Edmonton Police Service continues to investigate as well but no new evidence has surfaced, Numan said.
About 15 of Hundsdoerfer’s close friends got together last week to talk about how they could help and began creating billboards.
Hundsdoerfer’s roommate, Caroline Hendley, is the driving force behind the Help Us Find Anina campaign. Hendley, who has known Hundsdoerfer for six years and lived with her for two, reported her missing.
“We’re hoping that if someone sees the car’s picture and Anina’s face and the actual spot on the road her car was found it might trigger something they saw at the time that they didn’t realize could be important,” Hendley said of the billboards. “Even if it was just something unusual they remember, we want them to call that in . . . . No matter how small.”
Volunteers spent Sunday erecting the billboards in the Nordegg area.
Hendley said Hundsdoerfer spent time camping in the Nordegg area in the summer and that it was a “beautiful spot” but had not known her to ever journey there in the winter.
Barry Cooke, an entomologist with the Canadian Forest Service in Edmonton, has started a Find Anina hashtag on Twitter.
Cooke said he worked with Hundsdoerfer on research involving the mountain pine beetle and that she is a “very bright person.”
He plans to run the Woody’s Marathon in Red Deer on May 18 to support the Find Anina campaign and bring awareness to missing persons cases. He said he hopes she has been found by then.
“She is very dear to those of us who mentored her. … To have someone so engaged in the research operating in the province, it’s rare you get that quality of a professional connection with someone who is so well trained and knows the research … she is a special person.”
Hundsdoerfer is described as Caucasian, about 1.75 metres (five feet nine inches) tall and weighing about 72 kg (160 pounds). She has shoulder-length brown hair and blue eyes. She was believed to have been wearing a burgundy long winter coat, dark form-fitting pants and glasses.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone, or the Rocky Mountain House RCMP at 403-845-2881. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com.