Gale Keilman, a Peabody Health and Rehab resident who goes by the name “Ralph,” scaled a six-foot wood-slat fence that wraps around an outside patio area Monday night and walked away from the facility.
“Every spare staff person we have, volunteers, and emergency service personnel still are looking for him,” Alicia Weide, regional vice president of Mission Health Communities said on Tuesday. “It has been a very long night and a difficult day.”
The alert for Keilman went out about 9:55 p.m. Monday.
“A visitor was just leaving by the front door and saw him go over the fence and across the street,” Weide said. “The visitor came back in and told some of the staff. By the time several of them got outside to check, he was gone.”
The first call to Marion County dispatch was broadcast at a minute after 10 p.m. with Keilman’s name and description, including the clothing he was wearing. An officer on duty in Peabody went to check a possible sighting at 5th St. and Sycamore St., but it was not Keilman.
Police and off-duty PHR staff begin canvassing the community on foot and in cars. As others became aware of the search, many volunteered to help.
“We accounted for all the other residents and searched the facility,” PHR administrator Melissa Parmley said. “The house-to-house search in town included state troopers, local police, firefighters, and a dozen or so employees, plus community volunteers.”
The search continued until about 12:30 Tuesday morning and resumed at 6 a.m.
“Some people stayed out and kept searching through the night,” Parmley said.
A factor complicating Keilman’s “elopement” — a term the facility uses when a resident leaves on his own — is that Keilman is non-verbal and uses sign language or writes notes to express himself.
Weide said Keilman had been a resident at PHR for about two years and was popular with the staff.
“Everyone is just sick about this,” she said.
Mission Health Communities subscribes to a strict protocol when an elopement takes place.
“There are procedures to follow and I am confident the staff and administration absolutely followed them,” Weide said.
Parmley said local police have contacted area law enforcement, National Crime Information Center, and are in the process of issuing a “Silver alert.” Off-duty PHR employee Barb Dover was passing out an arm-load of fliers Tuesday afternoon to cars on 9th St. coming in and going out of Peabody. Keilman’s picture, description, and reporting information were on the fliers. Police in Peabody were checking vacant houses and out-buildings Tuesday afternoon.
Keilman is a 57-year-old white male with brown hair. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie, gray shorts, and white tennis shoes. Anyone with information about him or who might have seen him in or around Peabody, should call 911 immediately. At press time, he was still missing.