Byrne Valley woman still missing despite numerous searches

2014-01-03 00:00

SEARCH dogs, motorbikes and a helicopter were not enough to find Stephanie Leeston-Smith from Byrne Valley near Richmond, who has been missing since New Year’s Eve.

On Tuesday morning, the back door of Leeston-Smith’s house in Richmond was found open with no one inside.

Leeston-Smith’s friend of 20 years, Lilian van Rooyen, is very worried about her. She told The Witness that Leeston-Smith lived on a smallholding in the picturesque Byrne Valley. She said Leeston-Smith had been known to set out for walks to Richmond previously.

“She has never been missing for this long. Her dogs are her life, and she left them behind. This is why we are worried,” said Van Rooyen.

According to Van Rooyen, nothing was stolen from Leeston-Smith’s home, indicating that her disappearance is not crime-related. Her cellphone and handbag were also left at her home.

Police confirmed that 63-year-old Leeston-Smith is missing. The K9 search and rescue division set out to search for her yesterday, finding only her jersey and a handkerchief in a nearby plantation.

Captain Musa Ntombela of the SAPS said, “A routine search was conducted in and around the premises. Nothing was found. A search of nearby plantations was then done using dogs and a helicopter. The search will continue tomorrow.”

According to police, the words “Stephanie was here” with an arrow was scratched into the dirt in a nearby plantation. More arrows were found further on. Police searched the whole area. Leeston-Smith does not have any relatives and lives alone.

Police urge anyone who has information regarding Leeston-Smith’s whereabouts to contact Lieutenant Jack Haskins on 082 446 1930.

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