Monroe County Sheriff Update

April 17, 2023

First, I'd like to say that I feel blessed to live in a community with such care and concern for their family, neighbors, and community members. Before posting anything, I wanted to have the opportunity to speak to some of the family of Betty Hayes. People have taken a great interest in a recent search conducted by the Sheriff's Office along Route C in southern Monroe County over the past couple of days. Sometimes giving information during an investigation can become detrimental to the investigation so it is not common practice for our office to disseminate information on an ongoing investigation until certain things occur such as an arrest or we are seeking the assistance of the public. With that being said, I think it is important to give some information on this most recent search as there seems to be some incorrect information out in the community.

On Wednesday, April 12, at approximately 5:17 PM a concerned citizen called in regarding some clothing material that was from a pair of pants that were a shade of purple. This person recalled from earlier reports that Betty Hayes had been reported to have been wearing purple- or plum-colored pants when she was last seen. Multiple deputies from the Sheriff's Office and I responded and were assisted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The Madison-West Monroe Fire Protection District also offered support. All the pant material was found in a localized area of a planted field. A significant ground search was performed on foot and with the use of UTVs to search for any potential evidence. This search lasted into the evening hours.

On Thursday, April 13 a forensic level cadaver dog was deployed and did a search of the area as well. Dogs are used routinely for different types of searches and are trained to detect different things. Police tracking dog for example will track a scent trail of a living person while cadaver dogs are trained on different levels to search for human remains. The cadaver dog in this search did not indicate the presence of human remains in the area. To be clear there was nothing located that was identified as human remains or any indication that remains had been in contact with anything that was located.

I am sure some may be wondering why the pant material was there in the first place and that is a good question. I should point out that during the search we located fence posts, dog toys, men's clothing, and children's clothing along with various trash items such as water bottles, cans, etc. It is possible these were all discarded items, however we wanted to make determinations as to if there was any evidentiary value to any items located in the field.

I am very thankful for the citizen that called, as gathering information from our community members is vital in successful investigations. While I cannot give details of the remainder of the investigation, I will say that we have received numerous calls from concerned citizens. We have followed up on each one. During this investigation we have searched several hundred acres, deployed cadaver dogs' multiple times, followed up on multiple pieces of information and continue to work on this investigation regularly. Multiple agencies have taken part in this investigation at all levels using the most modern technology as well as having trained personnel on the ground during every stage of this investigation. We remain committed to finding answers.

I continue to seek the assistance of the public as we search for Betty Hayes. Please spread the word that she is still missing. That her family is still waiting for answers. Be mindful if you are out in the field or in the woods, take a second look at anything that appears out of the ordinary and do not hesitate to call our office if you find something, even if you are unsure of what you've found. If you have any information that could be helpful, please contact us. Our office continues to investigate every possible lead to find answers. Thank you in advance for your continued support and willingness to be of assistance in this matter. Sheriff Joe Colston