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Force helicopter and team of volunteers used in hunt for missing Stretton woman

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 24, 2014

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THE operation to find a woman with a history of sleepwalking who went missing involved the force helicopter, the Mail can reveal.

Staffordshire Police scrambled the aircraft and drafted in Staffordshire Search and Rescue volunteers when Wendy Richards (pictured) was reported missing from her Stretton home on Sunday.

The 43-year-old, of Horton Avenue, was found later that evening near McDonald’s, in Derby Road, after an extensive police search and appeals on social media.

Inspector Rob Neeson, who is based at Burton Police Station, said a member of the public found Ms Richards who was ‘cold and muddy’ but otherwise safe and well.

He said: “It was a massive policing operation where we used volunteers to come and carry out the search in a structured manner.

“Knowing where they were last seen and when helps us to know where to start looking.

“It’s very resource intensive so that is why we are really grateful to the volunteers and organisations which sent people out to help.”

At the time, officers said they were growing concerned for Ms Richards’ welfare as an undisclosed medical condition meant she would sometimes sleepwalk and had previously been found ‘some distance’ from her home.

Insp Neeson was unable to confirm if the hunt was sparked because of Ms Richards sleepwalking, but said there were ‘unusual circumstances’ in the operation.

He also paid tribute to the efforts of members of the public who spread the word across social media.

He said: “It was a happy ending. There was massive interest on Twitter and Facebook which is a really good way to get information out there because we were able to do it quickly.

“It was a really positive response from the public.”

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