Search conducted for missing woman

MADISON -- The daughter of a missing Lac qui Parle County woman says she doesn't understand how her 79-year-old mother could have disappeared this week.

MADISON -- The daughter of a missing Lac qui Parle County woman says she doesn't understand how her 79-year-old mother could have disappeared this week.

Verene Raaf has been missing since about 10 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a blood transfusion at a Madison hospital. Authorities were alerted when Raaf did not answer phone calls made to her home by nurses.

"Nothing is fitting together. You can't just disappear with a car," said Raaf's daughter, Jan Kirchberg, on Thursday morning. "That's the part that confuses me."

A ground and air search conducted on Wednesday turned up no sign of the woman or her car.

Sheriff Graylen Carlson said a local pilot spent several hours Wednesday flying over the roads between Madison and Raaf's home in rural Bellingham. The pilot searched road ditches and drainage ditches in the area and the Lac qui Parle County Highway Department looked under each bridge, he said.


With rain and snow on Thursday, Carlson said the ground and air search was suspended.

Kirchberg said the last time she spoke with her mother was Tuesday, before her medical appointment. She said Raaf had just bought groceries, which were still in her car, and she was concerned about getting the Christmas baking and candy-making done before a family get-together Saturday.

"She's an organized person," said Kirchberg. "She never went away from her plans."

Carlson said no foul play is suspected, but authorities are watching for any activity on Raaf's credit card, in case she had become disoriented and was using her card to buy gas or groceries in another community.

Kirchberg said she knows her mother wouldn't have left the area on her own without calling her, unless she had become disoriented or had a mental breakdown. Raaf is a diabetic and Kirchberg said she didn't know if her mother had her medications with her.

Kirchberg said Raaf finished getting a blood transfusion around 9 p.m. Tuesday. Raaf had undergone similar procedures in the past and knew the routine, said Kirchberg. Raaf was monitored by nurses at the hospital until about 10:10 p.m. and then left for home.

The nurses tried calling Raaf to make sure she'd made it home safely, but received no answer, said Kirchberg. After the second try to reach Raaf failed, the nurses called Kirchberg.

Family and friends have helped to search for Raaf since word got out that she was missing.


"Everybody is looking," said Kirchberg. "Mom's always lived here, so she knows everybody."

Carlson said they distributed information about Raaf to a wider geographical area on Thursday.

Raaf's four-door vehicle is a 2004 tan Buick LeSabre. The Minnesota license number is JLL769. Anyone with information is asked to call the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff's Department at 320-598-3720.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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