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April 8, 2008
Update: Missing man found alive in Smithfield
A 50-year-old man with Down syndrome who has been missing for almost 24 hours has been found alive, according to the police.
Joseph Bardsley, who had missing since about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, was found around 1:25 p.m. today behind a church near the group home in Smithfield where he lives, according to the police.
At about 2 p.m., Providence Police Maj. Paul Fitzgerald passed the information to a group of about 50 people who'd been searching for him near Branch Avenue in Providence, where he was last seen leaving a store.
Fitzgerald said, "Joey looks a little dehydrated, a little scratched up, but he's fine."
The group responded to Fitzgerald's announcement with a cheer.
Before he was found today, Bardsley had been last seen when security cameras show him leaving a store on Branch Avenue with his group home supervisor.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Gregory Smith
Bardsley lives in a group home operated by Gateways to Change, at 259 Stillwater Road in Smithfield. Yesterday, Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman said, Bardsley and a supervisor from the home took a minivan to the Family Dollar store in a shopping center at 700 Branch Ave.
Bardsley and the supervisor –– who police will only identify as a man in his late 40s –– went into the store and, just after 2:30 p.m., the stores camera shows the two leaving the store.
When questioned by the police, the supervisor said he was not sure if Bardsley got back into the van. Police were not notified that Bardsley was missing until about 6:30 p.m.
“The story is a hard and confusing one to understand,” Esserman said earlier today, before Bardsley was found. But right now the emphasis is on finding Bardsley, he added, rather than finding fault.
The police enlisted the public's help with the search, using an automated system to contact people and recruiting volunteers via e-mail.
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