Police, FBI did aerial search for missing Homer woman

A candlelight vigil will be held at WKFL Park for Murnane from noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday.

Homer Police and family and friends of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane have not let up the search for the 38-year-old woman who went missing in downtown Homer on Oct. 17.

Almost 35 days after she was last seen in a security camera image taken from outside her Main Street home, police have not come up with any solid leads into Murnane’s disappearance.

Murnane’s family has added a $10,000 reward offered through Crimestoppers for any information leading to Murnane’s return. Anonymous tips can be given to Crimestoppers by calling 907-283-8477. Information on the case is at the Peninsula Crime Stoppers page at www.peninsulacrimestoppers.com.

From noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, a candlelight vigil will be held at WKFL Park for Murnane to show support to her parents, Sara and Ed Berg, and family, and to raise awareness about her disappearance.

Murnane’s family has a Facebook page, Bring Duffy Home, and a Go Fund Me account to raise money to assist the search.

On Nov. 12, FBI agents using a high-powered video camera flew in a fixed-wing plane over downtown Homer from Soundview Avenue to Homer High School. The flight resulted in a 90-minute video, said Homer Police Lt. Ryan Browning, the lead investigator in the search for Murnane.

Police saw a flash of blue — the color of the coat Murnane is believed to have worn when she went missing — near South Peninsula Hospital.

“It looked like a person,” Browning said.

Police flew over the area on Nov. 13 with aerial drones and then a helicopter, and followed that up with a ground search. That flash of blue turned out to be a junk car rolled down the hill from a subdivision road on the bluff above the hospital.

“Still working, still plugging on leads and working through this,” Browning said.

On Sunday, friends did another canvass for Murnane, this time searching the Old Sterling Highway area in Anchor Point. About 20 people knocked on doors, said Tela Bacher, a childhood friend of Murnane’s.

“We met mostly, very, very open, welcoming, helpful people,” Bacher said on Tuesday. “… We didn’t get a lot of leads.”

Still, Bacher said she’s feeling hopeful. She said when they do canvasses, quite often police get calls later after memories get jogged.

“I guarantee you, if there was any, any possible lead, the police were right on top of it,” Bacher said. “…When there’s no solid piece of information, where do you go? However, everyone is continuing to look. That is the only way she is going to be found.”

Murnane disappeared on Oct. 17 after leaving her Main Street apartment for an appointment at the SVT Health & Wellness clinic on East End Road. The last confirmed sighting is that security camera photo showing her leaving the Maintree Apartments, a supported housing complex, about 12:15 p.m. Murnane had a 1 p.m. appointment at SVT Health and Wellness Center, about a 1-mile walk from her home. She did not show up for that appointment.

Homer Police and Alaska State Troopers issued a Silver Alert five weeks ago for Murnane. Anyone with information on her whereabouts can call Homer Police at 907-235-3150 or the Silver Alert hotline at 855-SILVR99 or 855-745-8799. A Silver Alert is for an adult considered a vulnerable person.

Murnane was wearing a blue jacket, light-blue shirt and blue jeans the last time she was seen. She is almost 6 feet tall, weighs about 160 pounds and has shoulder-length brown hair and blue eyes. She carried a pink-and-black plaid purse with a shoulder strap and carried her wallet, cellphone and identification. Police said she does not drive or own a vehicle and got around by walking.

The weekend after Murnane went missing, search and rescue dog teams from Anchorage tracked her in the downtown area, picking up scents from Main Street to Lee Drive, Svedlund Street, Pioneer Avenue and Kachemak Way. Search dogs got strong scents in the Kachemak Way to Pioneer Avenue area near Cosmic Kitchen, in front of Homer’s Jeans and the Kachemak Bay Campus. Murnane frequently ate at Cosmic Kitchen.

However, the dogs could no longer follow a scent and acted as if there had been what search dog handlers call a “car pick up.”

Murnane’s family say they believe someone picked her up in a vehicle.

Police feel confident they have ruled out Murnane disappearing in the downtown area near her home and getting lost because of illness or injury.

“We feel like we’ve done a good search,” Browning said.

Browning said officials continue to be frustrated by the lack of evidence that might lead to finding Murnane. Police are waiting for the FBI to finish analysis of her computer.

“She did so little,” Browning said. “Most people, if this was the case, you’d have Internet chats, Instagram … She just didn’t do much (online).”

Browning also said police haven’t found anything to suggest Murnane had suicidal or depressive thoughts or that she talked about disappearing.

The Bergs have said they don’t think she disappeared on her own.

“We haven’t found anything to suggest she wanted to disappear or was smarter than any of us to make that happen,” Browning said. “Just nothing.”

Bacher said that as a parent she has become more concerned for her children’s family. She encouraged parents also to be vigilant.

“I think the danger is still there,” she said. “…On the other hand, we have an awesome community that is a network of support and awareness.”

According to records on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, six people remain missing from Homer and Anchor Point since 1973, when James Monroe got lost while hunting in the Anchor River valley. Three victims were lost at sea and one man was lost in a helicopter crash over Kachemak Bay. One man, Frank Johnston, then 19, went missing on Sept. 30, 1980, and was last seen hitchhiking northbound on the Sterling Highway.

The last missing person in Homer was in September 2017, when John “Clint” Griffith went missing for 27 days from Homer. His body was found on a vacant Noview Avenue lot.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

BOX: Community members are invited to join family and friends of Duffy for a vigil at WKFL park on Saturday, Nov. 23 between noon and 4 p.m. The vigil is intended to remind everyone that she is still missing and to show support to her loved ones. There will be candles to hold, blue ribbons — her favorite color — to wear, as well as signs, with messages like “We love you Duffy,” “Won’t stop ‘til we find you Duffy.” The public is invited to make their own signs or there will be plenty on hand. For more information, contact Shelby at 299-9308.

Homer Police Department
                                A recent photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, missing since 
Oct. 17 in Homer.

Homer Police Department A recent photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, missing since Oct. 17 in Homer.

Homer Police Department A recent photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, missing since Oct. 17 in Homer.

Homer Police Department A recent photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, missing since Oct. 17 in Homer.

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