An elderly Asian woman who went missing in Virginia Beach, Virginia was found dead after four days of police and community search efforts.
While taking the trash out, Shu-jin Wu, 76, wandered away from her home in the 1500 block of Gallery Avenue around 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 17.
Wu’s family called 911 to report her missing a few hours later. Virginia Beach police started looking for her shortly after but did not release a statement until the next day.
Wu, who did not speak English, was described to be 5 feet and 2 inches, 100 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a red sleeveless vest with a gray sweatshirt.
Tidewater Search and Rescue, along with 40 volunteers, started looking for Wu last Wednesday.
“I’ve probably got about eight hours or so in these woods and all these surrounding areas even across Culver road this morning, I was looking. I did find some tracks that could have been hers,” Randy Brauner, a concerned resident, told WTKR. “She’s not in these woods right here, because I’ve looked quite extensively.”
Around 6:50 a.m. on Saturday, someone from the group found her body in a dense part of a creek bed behind a Food Lion store at General Booth Boulevard and Dam Neck Road. It was about a quarter-mile from her home, Virginia Beach Police Officer Linda Kuehn said.
In their own search, the department used K9s and helicopters and distributed a flyer to surrounding agencies.
“It is very tragic. This is the most unfortunate situation. This is something we never want to have to find. We wish we had, we had dozens of people out there looking. We can’t go back at this point,” Kuehn said, according to WAVY.
“We released the information. We were constantly looking for her. That never stopped. As soon as we got that report, we had people focused on trying to find her.”
Wu’s death is under investigation. Some criticized law enforcement for their handling of her case.
Virginia Beach police’s initial statement did not contain a description, photo or last known location, according to WAVY. It also took 29 hours before Virginia State Police released a Senior Alert.
“It just shows there was a big misstep by the Virginia Beach Police Department. They failed here,” resident Melissa Smith, who also helped with the search, told the outlet. “If it were my loved one, I would be very upset. Being a taxpayer, I see that we could have done a lot more. The police could have done a lot more to get the word out as fast as possible. I think they misestimated the situation and I want to know what their plans are for the future.”
Feature Images via Wu’s Family