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April 8, 2008
Update: Man found alive near his Smithfield group home
Journal photo / Andrew Dickerman
Karen Coffey, of Swansea, Mass., who works at the John E. Fogarty Center for adults with developmental disabilities, was among those who turned out today to help search for Joseph Bardsley. Here she shows his photo on Peter Street in Providence.
SMITHFIELD -- A 50-year-old man with Down syndrome who had been missing for almost 24 hours was found alive this afternoon, lying on his side, suffering from hypothermia but with no apparent physical trauma, the Smithfield police said.
Joseph Bardsley, missing since about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, was found around 1:25 p.m. today several hundred feet behind Living Waters Church on Stillwater Road, less than a half-mile from the group home in Smithfield where he lives.
He had been last seen when security cameras show him leaving a store on Branch Avenue in Providence with his group home supervisor.
Bardsley is receiving medical treatment at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence, according to the police, who held an afternoon news conference that included Smithfield Chief William A. McGarry, a deputy Smithfield chief and Providence Police Maj. Paul Fitzgerald.
At about 2 p.m. today, Fitzgerald passed the information that Bardsley -- known as Joey -- had been found to a group of about 50 people who'd been searching for him near Branch Avenue.
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.
Last night, Smithfield police were alerted by a woman who said she thought she had seen a man matching his description walking along a trail in Smithfield. The police went out with a thermal imaging device for a while last night and put a boat on the waters of Capron Pond.
At daylight today, police officers, on an all-terrain vehicle, intensifed the search, finding Bardsley in a hilly, wooded place behind the church this afternoon.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Gregory Smith
Bardsley lives in a group home run by Gateways to Change, at 259 Stillwater Road in Smithfield.
His sister, Alicia Coogan of Smithfield said today that Bardsley had been in a group home since 1992, and that "he's been very happy" in the Smithfield home, where she said it was his job to go out and get groceries. He likes to eat and shop, she said.
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 would only identify as a man in his late 40s -- went into the store. Just after 2:30 p.m., the store's 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.
After extensive questioning, the Providence police excused the group home supervisor.
The police enlisted the public's help with the search, using an automated system to contact people and recruit volunteers via e-mail.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:30 PM | Permalink
Concerned | April 8, 2008 7:25 PM link
Joseph | April 8, 2008 7:48 PM link
Debbie | April 9, 2008 6:50 AM link
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