Police have shifted their area of focus in their search for a based on information gleaned from a witness account Thursday night.
A witness told police they saw a woman matching the description of missing 76-year-old Maria “Marlies” Jansen on the 1500 block of Rosita Road at about 5 p.m. The witness told police the woman was walking westbound.
The sighting is about a half mile southwest of where they’d assumed she’d gone missing on the 900 block of Park Pacifica Avenue, and about two hours after she was last seen by her husband, authorities said.
“We’ve kind of hit the reset button” Pacifica police Sgt. D. Wachtelborn told Patch.
“We’ve shifted the focus from the area we’ve been searching the past two and a half days to the area that coincides where recent sighting.”
Wachtelborn confirmed a that Jansen likely suffers from early dementia.
“Basically, it’s an unconfirmed diagnosis, but according to the family she’s showing signs of early dementia,” he said.
Police continued to comb the rugged hillside area in a search that is now in its third day, tapping multiple law enforcement agencies for mutual aid assistance.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, along with Sheriff’s deputies from Alameda and Monterey counties have aided in a search that’s included infrared-equipped aircraft, mounted units, K-9 units, bloodhounds, and other trailing dogs.
“We’ve pulled out every stop imaginable,” Wachtelborn said.
The search for the missing woman began Wednesday eveving has continued overnight, with 83 searchers from multilple agencies working all hours through the first two days. Up to 40 searchers will work today’s search, Wachtelborn said.
Despite Jansen’s likely disoriented mental state, police believe there is a chance that she’s still alive. She’s described as an avid hiker who is in excellent physical condition for a woman her age.
“A lot of people seem to feel if she’s not found within the first 24 hours she’s simply done for, but that’s not the case,” Wachtelborn said.
Police believe Jansen could have found shelter in a shed or unlocked car, and may have found a water hose. They believe she can survive on her own at least up to four days.
“She may be confused and not be able to get home but still be able to care for herself,” Wachtelborn said.
“It’s entirely possible that’s she’s OK.”
But police acknowledge that time is running out, and that Janesn’s mental condition, her age, the difficult terrain and the frigid overnight temperatrures present formidable challenges.
The window “is narrowing and that’s why we’re continuing to reach out to allying agencies,” Wachtelborn said.
“We’ve really strechted San Mateo County (Sheriff’s Department’s search and rescue teams) past their limits. A lot of them are still here but they’re exhausted.”
Jansen is a 5-foot-5 100-pound Caucasian with brown hair and brown eyes. She may be wearing yellow “croc” type garden shoes and a dark colored jacket.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Pacifica Police Department (650) 738-7314.