NEW CASTLE, Ind.-- New Castle investigators are working to determine whether a body found in a field Tuesday is that of an Alzheimer’s patient who went missing after walking away from an assisted living facility.
New Castle Police say the body was found by a farmer who was harvesting corn about a quarter mile down the road from Addison Place Senior Living Community, where 74-year-old Larry Tucker was last seen. Tucker, an Army veteran and Alzheimer’s patient, was reported missing after he walked away from Addison Place Aug. 14. The case prompted a statewide Silver Alert.
New Castle Police say the body was in an advanced state of decomposition and appeared to be wearing blue jeans, which matches part of the description listed in the Silver Alert.
Members of Tucker’s family met with New Castle Police Wednesday to ask questions about the discovery and help with the investigation.
“They just took DNA from me to match to see if it is my dad,” said Tucker’s youngest daughter, Helen Weeks.
Tucker’s disappearance prompted an extensive search effort in Henry and Madison Counties. Volunteers joined family, police and bloodhounds. Search teams knocked on doors and handed out fliers. A bloodhound tracked Tucker’s scent but lost it, leading investigators to believe he may have been picked up by someone. A National Guard helicopter searched the county, along with a Henry County EMA drone that scoured fields.
The search ultimately turned up nothing. Now, family members are coping with the fact that Tucker may have been just down the road from Addison Place the whole time.
“If it’s him, I can’t believe he was that close,” said Tucker’s oldest daughter, Lanna Lawson. “I mean how did we miss him?”
New Castle Police Chief Brad Catron pointed out that the field down the road from Addison Place would have been full of tall, thick corn in mid-August. If Tucker’s body was in the field the whole time, the corn could have obscured it from view. It’s possible Tucker walked into the field and collapsed in the heat and humidity. Catron said that is purely speculation at this point.
“It would be nice to know how long he laid there,” said Tucker’s son-in-law, Joe Lawson.
Tucker’s family hopes DNA testing at a State Police lab will bring the answers they’ve been wanting for nearly three months.
“Honestly, all along I’ve felt that he probably wasn’t with us anymore,” Lanna Lawson said.
Henry County Coroner Stephen Hacker said it could be a couple weeks before DNA test results come back.
It remains unclear how Tucker was able to walk away from Addison Place. Catron said nobody at the facility was able to tell investigators how Tucker got out of the building to walk away. There is no security video from the building.
Members of Tucker’s family declined to say whether a lawsuit against Addison Place is in the works.