Search for missing woman in Exeter suspended

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — Family and friends of a Coventry woman who’s been missing for several days are holding out hope she’ll be found alive.

They, along with volunteers and local officials, suspended their search for Patti Pendleton Friday night, after another day of combing through wooded areas of Exeter.

Pendleton, 59, was reported missing Tuesday after she didn’t show up for work. She had gone hiking with her two dogs along a trail south of Ten Rod Road, near Beach Pond.

Four helicopters from Rhode Island State Police and the National Guard are assisting in the efforts, along with watercraft, 10 K-9 officers, horses, and more than 150 people.

Ground crews have scoured about 4,200 acres of land in the Arcadia Management Area so far, according to police, and more than 10 square miles have been searched from the air.

Police said they’re still very confident Pendleton is in the woods somewhere. They found her car and a pair of glasses believed to be hers, but no trace of Pendleton or her poodle or terrier.

If Pendleton isn’t found on Friday, police said they’ll have to reevaluate if they’ll continue the search at such a high level.

“It’s getting a little bit dire,” said State Police Cpl. Scott Carlsten. “We try to be optimistic, and we’re trying to keep our searchers optimistic, but we’re getting to that point.”

While he’s worried about his mother, Pendleton’s son said he’s hopeful they’ll find her soon.

“My family, we were all scouts. She’s a single mom, so she had to pick up some of the basics,” said Mike Pendleton. “We did a lot of hiking and camping my whole childhood, so I think she has the skill set to survive. She’s a mental rock, so she’s out there somewhere, waiting.”

Police said they don’t have any evidence of foul play.

Detectives searched Pendleton’s home and vehicle for any additional evidence but nothing suspicious was uncovered. There has been no activity on Pendleton’s cell phone, bank accounts, or credit cards since Monday, according to police.

Police urge you not to go out searching for Pendleton on your own, separate from the organized search. There was already an issue with K-9’s getting confused by the scent of people who weren’t in the right place.

The state Department of Environmental Management warned that Saturday is the start of shotgun hunting season in Rhode Island, so anyone who goes out searching should do so with caution and must wear at least 500 square inches of orange.