AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police said a body found in north Austin Wednesday belongs to a missing 76-year-old man who disappeared from a memory care facility.
Police said officers went to investigate the discovery of a body at about 10:44 a.m. near the intersection of Parmer Lane and MoPac Expressway.
A Silver Alert was issued for Paull Patterson after he was reported missing early on the morning of Nov. 7. He was last seen at around 4 p.m. the day before leaving a medical facility near the intersection of Amherst Drive and Parmer Lane, according to APD.
Police confirmed Friday that the body was identified positively as Patterson’s. The Silver Alert was canceled at 3 p.m. Wednesday, hours after the body was found.
Investigators said the body was found within feet of an area that was already searched for Patterson near the memory care facility where he was last seen, Colonial Gardens.
“Today… detectives were again in the area of the facility looking for Mr. Patterson, when a citizen called 911, stating he discovered a body. The citizen had been searching the area for multiple days in an attempt to locate Mr. Patterson,” said Jerry Bauzon, Austin Police assistant chief.
Bauzon said that indicates it was possible Patterson was moving around at the time of earlier searches.
Police said Patterson was able to walk up to two miles at a time by himself.
They said he was last seen leaving Colonial Gardens on Nov. 6, but the facility didn’t notify police until much later.
“[He] left on foot after following a staff member out the door. APD was not contacted until seven hours after Mr. Patterson exited the facility,” Bauzon said.
He explained how crucial that time is in a missing person search.
“Especially with persons on foot, because the sooner we can get out there, the more resources, the officers we have on patrol and patrol cars, we’ve got helicopter units, we’ve got canine searchers,” he explained. “The sooner we’re out there, the less of an opportunity the person has to… make his way away from that area, the immediate area.”
Patterson’s attorney said the family wants to know why there was a gap.
“The seven-hour delay is inexplicable. That seven-hour delay caused there to be no leads on which way he went. And I think really changed the outcome of this case,” said Amber Russell, founder of LOAR personal injury law firm.
She said the family is devastated and their hope is now replaced with more questions.
“We want to know, and the family wants to know, how this was allowed to happen. And, most importantly, how to prevent it so that no other family has to experience a tragedy like this,” Russell said.
APD said this is an ongoing investigation, and Texas Health and Human Services also told KXAN it is investigating Colonial Gardens.
Russell said they are also seeking answers.
“This was preventable, this should never have occurred,” she said.
She said the family is grateful for the community’s support in helping with the search.
“Once it was reported, people that never even met the family came out and started just searching out of the own goodness of their hearts,” Russell said.
She said the man who found the body was a neighbor.
“This was just someone in the community out of the goodness of his heart who wanted to help with this search and ultimately was successful in finding Mr. Patterson,” she said.
Timeline of the search for Paull Patterson
Nov. 6: Patterson left the care facility on foot after following an employee outside. APD was not contacted until seven hours after. Facility staff conducted an exterior search of the building, per protocol, then contacted the police, who also searched the area.
Nov. 7: A Silver Alert was issued. A search was done in the greenbelt area near the facility. Detectives also conducted a video canvass and showed Patterson’s photo to area residents.
Nov. 8: Detectives from the missing persons unit were again on foot looking for Patterson.
Nov. 9: Detectives again searched on foot for Patterson and started planning a large-scale search operation with Travis County Search and Rescue.
Nov. 10: A large-scale search operation was conducted, involving multiple ground searchers and canine searchers.
Nov. 11-14: Missing persons detectives followed up on numerous sightings, including sightings in Round Rock and area hospitals, with no luck.
Nov. 15: Detectives received information Patterson was on his way to New Mexico. At that time, the Silver Alert was expanded to include New Mexico.
Nov. 16: Detectives were again in the area of the facility looking for Patterson, when a citizen called 911, stating he discovered a body. The citizen had been searching the area for multiple days in an attempt to locate Patterson.