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Missing woman's sandal leads police to search flooded area
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Missing woman's sandal leads police to search flooded area

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GRIFFITH — A missing woman with mental disabilities was last seen on surveillance Saturday walking into a lowland, wooded area and recent flooding of the area has complicated recent search efforts, Griffith police said Tuesday.

The 48-year-old woman, named Dushawna, was last seen just before 6 a.m. Saturday walking way from her group home at 35th and Cline Avenue, according to police. Officers initially checked the area on foot, with a K-9 police dog and the Lake County Sheriff's helicopter, police said.  

Dushawna has been described by caretakers as having the mental capacity of a young child.

A Silver Alert, social media posts and news releases to area media outlets were issued Saturday.

Two employees in the area reported to police over the weekend having seen Dushawna in the area Saturday morning.

Video obtained by one of the employee’s nearby business shows the woman walking northbound from the area of River Road and Indiana Avenue and into the wooded lowland area before going out of view of the camera, police said. 

A Griffith officer used an ATV to scour the lowland area, finding a white flip-flop sandal a few hundred feet from where Dushawna was last seen. The sandal matched that of the shoes she was believed to be wearing.

Due to inclement weather, helicopter units were unavailable to search the area after that finding, so Griffith K-9s were dispatched to the area. 

Weather conditions forced the search to be suspended that night due to the area being un-navigable, police said. 

On Monday, the area was searched again with use of the county sheriff's helicopter, the Hammond Police Department's drone unit, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' boat and ATV.

Griffith officers and Canadian National Railroad officers also searched the area. 

"The flooded area of the private property hampered search efforts and again had to be discontinued after several hours," police said.

Authorities say they will continue to monitor weather conditions and water levels of the area and will resume a check of the area again as soon as conditions allow.

"The area is still considered to be dangerous and citizens are prohibited from entering the property," police said. 

Although much effort has been put into checking the areas she was last seen, police are still looking into the possibility that Dushawna is not in that area. Detectives will continue to follow up on any leads developed or provided.

Dushawna is described as an African American woman, about 5 feet tall and weighing about 180 pounds. She was is believed to be wearing blue jeans and a light-colored top, denim shirt or jacket.

Those who may have seen Dushawna or may know where she is at are urged to call 911 immediately. Griffith Detective Al Tharp can also be reached at 219-924-7503, extension 252.

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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North Lake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS. Contact her at lauren.cross@nwi.com or 219-933-3206.

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