MORE than 60 police officers were last night still searching for a lightly-clothed 84-year-old woman who went missing from a care home in icy temperatures.
Monica Dixon, who has mild dementia, vanished from Abbeyfield Care Home in Corbridge after Sunday lunch.
The 5ft 1in grandmother had no coat and was wearing only a jumper, but helicopters and a major search squad failed to find her.
Police trawled the River Tyne 100 yards away from the care home as teams of officers made door-to-door inquiries, checking empty buildings and placing posters on shop windows in the village.
Mrs Dixon’s 92-year-old husband, who lives in Corbridge, her five children and 10 grandchildren, spent the day anxiously waiting for news.
The search also extended to Benton, Newcastle, where Mrs Dixon formerly lived and worked, as well as Allendale, south Northumberland, where there are more family connections.
There are also relatives in Norway and one daughter yesterday cut short her holiday abroad to return to the North East. Supt Mick Paterson of Northumbria Police said: “We have checked CCTV in the village and seen one image of Mrs Dixon very close to Abbeyfield Care Home.
“It is clear that she left the home alone, and we know she had her Sunday lunch with others and was absolutely fine before walking outside.
“She is a very independent lady but does suffer from very mild dementia, and has left the home once or twice in recent weeks before being found around the Hill Street area in Corbridge.
“We are sure that she did not have a coat on and are aware that she may have boarded a bus as there is a bus stop immediately outside the home, with a number of hail-and-ride services. She used to work at the Ministry in Newcastle and we are also working on the possible theory that in her state of mind she may have travelled there, seeking out old places that she would know.
“But the search is principally being centred in and around Corbridge.”
Yesterday, in the normally quiet community, police search vehicles became a familiar sight as they toured the heart of the village.
Officers also patrolled on foot, speaking to passers-by and asking if they had sighted the diminutive woman.
Mrs Dixon was wearing dark grey trousers, a blue flowery shirt and a light blue jumper when she disappeared. She has shoulder-length dark grey hair and blue eyes, and was wearing glasses.
“Mrs Dixon may be disorientated, though she was absolutely fine when she finished her Sunday lunch and went out at 1.30pm on what was quite a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon,” Supt Paterson added.
“It was not unusual for Mrs Dixon to step outside, especially in such good weather.
“But we are now extremely concerned for Mrs Dixon’s safety.
“It was extremely cold overnight on Sunday night and if she spent the night outdoors then we need to find her as soon as possible.
“We are building a picture of Monica in order to understand where she is likely to go.”
The police helicopter was launched several times and the search was extended to other parts of east Tynedale.
In the villagesquare.com toyshop near the entrance to Abbeyfield, a female member of staff said: “The police have been calling at all homes and businesses round here all day, but no one seems to have seen the lady who is missing.”
A special incident room has been set up at Hexham Police Station, with officers working around the clock.
Anyone who sights Mrs Dixon, or may have information on her whereabouts, is asked to phone Northumbria Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.