Search continues for missing woman
Emergency management and law enforcement personnel across Jackson County are engaged in a search for a woman who has been missing since last month.
“We continue to hope that something develops, so we can bring some closure on this to the family,” said Jackson County Sheriff Chip Hall.
Eunice Gass, an 80-year-old Whittier resident, went missing on Thursday, Aug. 25. She was last seen in Sylva that morning, at the State Employees Credit Union on Highway 107.
In southern Jackson County, the Cashiers-Glenville Volunteer Fire Department and Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad are spearheading the efforts to search for Gass.
Fire Chief Randy Dillard said teams of two have been scouring local roadways, searching for some sign of Gass’ vehicle — a silver 2006 Toyota Scion xA.
“We’re sending out two to a truck, we’re just checking for her vehicle,” Dillard said. “We’ve just been going at it with our paid guys and everyone else that we can get.”
Jackson County emergency personnel are using a new system in the search for Gass, called Crisis Track. The software allows Dillard and other staff to track which roads have been searched and when, overlaying the completed search routes onto a map of the county to help determine what areas have not yet been searched.
“I’m impressed with how easy it works,” Dillard said. “You download it onto your phone, it’s a free app, and then one person hits start when you get in your area, then it tracks you. What I really am impressed with is how it does things like 107 South, where there’s no phone service. It keeps up with it and once you get back in service, it will log it all in and show it to you.”
As the preliminary search of the county’s roadways nears completion, Hall said the nature of the search will change in the next several days. Sheriff’s deputies and other personnel involved in the search will start narrowing in on anything they’ve found so far that might yield additional information or point them toward Gass’ whereabouts.
“We’re continuing to follow up on leads at the sheriff’s office,” Hall said. “A number of volunteers are still working in the community, and we have some dog teams working still. But most of the sheriff’s office is looking at following up on leads, looking at video and conducting more in-depth interviews with individuals we have encountered in the search so far.”
Hall said the investigation will remain flexible as new leads come in and old leads are either exhausted or found to have the potential to lead deputies to Gass.
“It just goes with the development of the case,” he said. “If we get a lead we need to follow up, we make certain it is followed up on. If we get some interest in something that needs to be searched, we put together a search team and go out there.”
Hall said a Silver Alert was issued for Gass on Aug. 26, a type of notification that informs individuals in a particular geographic region that a senior citizen is missing and potentially in harm’s way.
“The Silver Alert is issued through the North Carolina Department of Public Safety,” Hall said. “We have Ms. Gass entered into several other notification networks as well, to allow law enforcement statewide and even in the whole region, in the southeast, to be aware that she’s missing and there has been a Silver Alert issued.”
Residents who may have information on Gass’ whereabouts or wellbeing are asked to call the Jackson County Sheriff's Office at 828-586-1911.