Update: Missing Juneau woman’s family says the search has been called off, thanks volunteers

Anne Stepetin talks to people who showed up to search for Geraldine "Gerry" Nelson on May 5, 2021, at Sacred Shine in Juneau, Alaska. It has been six days since Nelson went missing from her Lemon Creek home. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)
Anne Stepetin talks to people who showed up to search for Geraldine “Gerry” Nelson on May 22, 2021, at Sacred Shine in Juneau, Alaska. It has been six days since Nelson went missing from her Lemon Creek home. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

Updated Post — May 22, 2021 | 4:50 

Family of the missing Geraldine “Gerry” Nelson called off the search for her on Friday.

The 78-year-old Alaska Native woman went missing Sunday evening in the Lemon Creek area. She is a Juneau resident but is originally from Angoon.

All week, there was a widespread search and rescue effort by family, community members and law enforcement.

On Saturday, Juneau Police said that a member of the search dog team found Nelson’s body Friday afternoon. They said her death doesn’t appear suspicious.

Her grandson, Preston Nelson posted on social media Friday afternoon thanking everyone for their help in searching for her, including the dog who found his grandmother and the dog’s handler.

Original Post — May 21, 2021 | 3:45 p.m.

The widespread search and rescue effort for Geraldine “Gerry” Nelson continued on Friday.

The elderly Juneau resident went missing Sunday evening in the Lemon Creek area.

The search is currently concentrated in Lemon Creek and out to Fred Meyer. Those are areas the family has found her in the past. The last time Nelson went missing, she was found in Lemon Creek.

Alaska State Trooper Josh Bentz gave an update at the Friday morning check-in. He said that the rain will not affect Nelson’s scent or hinder the search dogs’ ability to trail Nelson’s scent.

Bentz suggests that people who are looking for Nelson keep doing what they’re doing.

“Look under the porches, look in boats, look in cars,” he said. “Anywhere where somebody could climb in and curl up and fall asleep.”

The search party is also organizing door-to-door searches in the Switzer Village Mobile Park.

Alaska State Trooper Josh Bentz talks to people who showed up to search for Geraldine "Gerry" Nelson on May 5, 2021, at Sacred Shine in Juneau, Alaska. It has been six days since Nelson went missing from her Lemon Creek home. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)
Alaska State Trooper Josh Bentz talks to people who showed up to search for Geraldine “Gerry” Nelson on May 22, 2021, at Sacred Shine in Juneau, Alaska. It has been six days since Nelson went missing from her Lemon Creek home. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

At the Friday morning check-in, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Peterson came to offer a prayer and support for the search.

“Creator, we ask this in your name that we find Gerry, we bring her home, that we reunite her with her family. And we surround her with the love, the strength that she needs ‘til we can find her,” he said.

Peterson said that he’s heard of people getting pulled over while driving slowly around neighborhoods in the search for Nelson. He asks that people not search for Nelson alone.

“Not only do you have to worry about bears but sometimes you have to worry about people,” he said. “And if they think you’re up to no good, it’s a lot easier to explain if you’re not alone.”

The search party has bear spray so people who want to help search but don’t have safety gear can still help.

Ann Stepetin, who is helping organize the search, said people can help in other ways too.

“Our biggest request now is gas money because people have been burning up their fuel driving and driving and driving,” she said.

Other items that can help the search party are rain gear, extra layers, fruit and bear spray.

There have been a lot of false sightings of Gerry Nelson, so Stepetin asked for people to take a flyer and see what she looks like.

And to just keep an eye out when out  when walking or driving.

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