SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. – Orange County sheriff’s investigators confirmed Tuesday that the body of a woman found in San Juan Capistrano Monday was that of a 94-year-old woman who went missing last week.
Coroner’s officials confirmed that the deceased person is Shirley “Jean” Airth, who was last seen leaving her home for one of her regular walks at about 5 p.m. Dec. 18 in the 32000 block of Via Buena, according to Orange County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Steinle.
An autopsy is expected to be done this week and investigators are continuing to probe what happened, but at this time her death is not considered suspicious, Steinle said.
“Our hearts go out to the family in this situation,” Steinle said.
The California Highway Patrol issued a Silver Alert for Airth on Dec. 19.
Airth, who lives with her family, was “known for going out for walks,” Steinle said last week. “She walks at a very rapid pace. She’s very athletic for 94 years old so our concern is she could be a great distance from her residence.”
Her son, Brian Airth, told reporters at a news conference last Tuesday that his mother was recently starting to show signs of dementia.
“She currently has dementia and like a lot of people with dementia she’s starting to get a little paranoid,” he said. “She might be hiding because she’s getting paranoid. … Please look at your storage spaces and cars.”
Investigators suspected she may have sought out some sort of shelter such as a garage, Steinle said.
“She has four children, nine grandchildren,” Brian Airth said. “She moved here 27 years ago. … She loves to hike and golf.”
Airth is “very friendly” but has become a bit more “reclusive” of late, her son said. She had never gone missing before, her son said.
“It’s a first,” he said. “We were absolutely on our guard watching her… These symptoms have just popped up. … Sometimes she’s very coherent and sometimes she’s not.”