Police find few leads in woman missing for months

The last day anyone can say they saw Jennifer Shadle was May 15.

It was at about 5 p.m. The 48-year-old woman was walking outside the Wal-Mart Plaza on North Atherton Street, a black purse slung on her shoulder.

And then ... nothing. She didn’t call her mother. She didn’t call her three children. She didn’t call a friend.

Now, almost two months since the last sighting, her family is growing desperate, and local authorities are stepping up a search that has very little information.

Ferguson Township police issued a new release about Shadle, who they say has also gone by Jennifer Cahill-Shadle, on Thursday, hoping someone will step forward with new information about her welfare and whereabouts.

“I reported it the sixth day after I discovered she had not called her child,” said Shadle’s mother, Johanna Zmuida, of Orwigsburg. “I knew something was wrong.”

Shadle lived with her mother from November 2013 to April 2014, before returning to Centre County. Police said she stayed in local hotels or with friends, not at the home she owned in Ferguson Township. She was last known to have stayed at the Roadway Inn in State College.

“We started the investigation right away,” said Sgt. Robert Glenny.

The family says otherwise. In a statement they put out this week, they claim “the police chose to believe that Jennifer had left on her own volition and didn’t truly investigate or report Jennifer as a missing person until 30 days later.”

Glenny insists the case was taken seriously from the first report, but what hampers the search is that they can’t point to a specific problem or suspicious activity. They have no information, but that also means they have no information that points toward foul play or a threat to Shadle’s well-being.

“As of yet, we just really have no clue,” Glenny said. “We’re puzzled, too.”

He called the family “cooperative,” and according to their descriptions of the missing woman, everything about the disappearance is out of character for her. She does not go for long stretches of time without talking to her loved ones. She doesn’t have a car, favoring walking or taxis for transportation. She has also been known to take the Megabus for longer trips.

But according to her mother, there has been no movement in her bank accounts since she was last seen.

“She had just talked with one of her daughters on the phone about a new bank account she had opened in preparation for her divorce after a difficult marriage,” the family statement says. They also claim there have been no calls made from her cellphone and all calls to the phone go directly to voice mail.

Police said that her health insurance accounts also have not shown activity.

“And we can say one thing for certain: She has had no contact with police,” Glenny said.

“At this point, I just have to do as much as I can,” Zmuida said. The family is working with a private detective to try to locate Shadle.

Glenny, however, said that police are more and more worried about the situation.

“As days go on, we get more concerned as well,” he said.

Shadle is described as a 5-foot-4 brunette, weighing about 112 pounds. Family said she took good care of her appearance.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call police at 237-1172 or 800-479-0050.