DRYDEN — Officials and residents from Dryden Township, along with groups from around the state of Michigan, spent last week searching for Joseph Mindelli.

Joseph (Joe) Mindelli was reported as a missing person to the Dryden Township Police Department on Monday, July 19 at 1:52 p.m. Diane Mindelli, Joe’s wife, realized he was not in their Dryden Township home in the earlier hours of July 19. However, given that Joe often takes early morning walks on and around their 10-acre property, she was not immediately concerned. After a bit of time she contacted family members and as their concerns began to grow, family, close friends and neighbors began to search for Joe. Not too long thereafter, they decided to reach out to the police department.

Volunteers are transported along Casey Road to their designated search area last week.

In less than 24 hours several members of the Dryden Township community, Dryden Township Police Department and beyond joined in on the efforts. By Tuesday morning an official grid search was planned. Volunteers were instructed to sign up at the Wesleyan Church in Dryden and then would be called to Casey Road where the Mindelli’s reside. From there teams were built and sent out on foot to search in specific areas with a goal of covering every bit of ground, especially the mile-and-a-half radius surrounding the Mindelli’s home.

Shawn Peters, Chief of Police for Dryden Township, shared that as of Wednesday, July 21 their search efforts had included drone technology, thermal imaging, flare imaging, Black Hawk helicopters, helicopters from the US Coast Guard, Michigan State Police and the Oakland County Sheriff helicopter. Peters continued on to say that the search has been conducted on foot, in the air, on ATV units, equestrian units and search and rescue teams had joined all the way from Alpena to Coldwater, Michigan.

“We’ve covered in some capacity search either by air, drone or on foot probably 22 of the 36 square miles of Dryden,” Peters said.

Susie Grondin Kage of Dryden was one among nearly 400 on foot volunteers on Tuesday, July 20.

“I was signed up with perfect strangers to me but we all had the same goal…we went up to people’s doors and asked them to check their barns and outbuildings. Most of them hadn’t even heard about Joe but were all very concerned and willing to help,” Kage said.

Peters is grateful to the community, search and rescue teams and police departments from all over the state of Michigan as their support and efforts have been tremendous.

“We don’t really worry about borders or what color somebody’s uniform is, we just want to get the job done,” he said.

Mr. Mindelli is entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network as a missing person. It is urged that everyone in the area check their property, outbuildings, trail cameras, deer blinds, etc. Anyone who sees Mr. Mindelli is urged to call the Dryden Township Police Department at (810)796-2271 or Lapeer County Central Dispatch at (810) 667-0292.

The 79 year-old likes to hike and, according to the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office, was last seen walking on Casey Rd. near Fox Chapel Dr. on the morning of July 19. Mindelli is in the beginning stages of dementia and may be confused or disoriented.