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Search for missing Fitchburg man continues Friday

FITCHBURG, Wis. - The search continues for a missing elderly Fitchburg man, who has not been seen since Wednesday.

Police said 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia left his home off Heywood Circle about 2 p.m.

Heywood Circle is not far from the intersection of Fish Hatchery and Whalen roads. That's where Fitchburg police and volunteers have focused their search efforts.

Thirty volunteers searched for Gill Friday along with Madison Police Department's mounted patrols. The family said the search effort is what's keeping them going.

"Staying active and doing this stuff keeps our minds off of what might be happening," Guillermo's son, Kurt DeVenecia, said.

The 82-year-old was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. The family, which is in the process of moving homes, is now searching the 15-mile radius between the two homes for clues.

"We kind of thought that it would be logical for him to go in that direction because he really likes the new house, the new apartment and is anxious to move over there. It just so happens that he may have wondered off on his own," he said.

Paul Rusk, executive director of the Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance in Madison, said the family's upcoming move could have been a trigger.

"What could've happened is the person with dementia just became confused," Rusk said. "Especially with moving. That's very understandable when you deviate from the normal schedule."

This is the second person reported missing with dementia this week in Dane County. Rusk said getting turned around is common for dementia patients, but it's important to take precautions.

"It happens frequently. Often (Alzheimer's patients) have a lot of excess energy and they want more activity, so they wander off," Rusk said. "Actually the exercise is good for them. It's good for people to be out walking and engaging with other forms of exercise, but we need to do it safely."

The family said Gill usually takes walks around the house but has never traveled this far before. After 48 hours of searching and no leads on where his father could be, DeVenecia said he still has hope.

"Every hour that passes it just gets a little demoralizing," DeVenecia said. "We did this search today and didn't find a thing, but we have hope. You think that's a bad thing, but in reality I think it's a good thing."

Police said DeVencia is hard of hearing. On Wednesday he was wearing tan pants, a blue or brown shirt and leather sandals. Anyone with information is asked to call Fitchburg police at 270-4300.

Crime stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for anyone with information on DeVanecia whereabouts.

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