Search intensifies for Sadorus mother of seven
SADORUS – It's been three months, three weeks and five days since anyone's seen Naomi Arnette.
Now, Arnette's face – a shy, closed-mouth smile, hazel eyes and hair pulled back – is appearing on billboards around the state.
Missing. Mother of seven. Call Crimestoppers.
The Sadorus woman was last seen in May at her Sadorus home by her estranged husband. She wore a pink shirt, gray shorts and flip-flops.
Her disappearance bewildered friends. It confounded family – especially her kids, who are between ages 8 and 17.
The search for Arnette will intensify later this month, when Texas EquuSearch will gather volunteers in Sadorus and scour the area with horses, four-wheelers and even a boat.
Sister-in-law Angela Roy said she fears the worst.
"She would've contacted her children," Roy said, who has custody of Arnette's kids. "I am hoping she's still alive somewhere, but you don't know what to think."
Texas EquuSearch will lead volunteers in a search for Arnette on Sept. 29-30. The organization's director, Tim Miller, said he knows how Arnette's family feels after his own daughter was abducted and murdered in 1984.
"I've been on the other side of the fence," Miller said.
Miller will bring about 10 searchers from Texas, but could use as many as 200 volunteers in the hunt for Arnette.
"I think we're going to find her," Miller said. "Unfortunately, I don't think she's alive, but she needs to be found anyway."
Miller is working with the Champaign County sheriff's office and won't charge for the search. Lt. Ed Ogle said he's happy to have Miller's assistance.
"We have no ego when it comes to finding missing people," Ogle said. "Any help we can get is welcome."
Texas EquuSearch has found more than 200 missing persons alive, Miller said, and the remains of 72.
He's requesting donations of food and water for volunteers – and financial donations to help pay for the search.
Billboards dedicated to finding Arnette are springing up all over the state.
And they'll continue for the next few months, said Casey Wichmann, the com-munications and public service director for the Outdoor Advertising Association of Illinois. People in Chicago, Collinsville and even the Quad Cities will see Arnette's shy smile.
"The amount of people that are seeing this board every single day (are) getting her picture in front of them," Wichmann said. "They may see her walking down the street or shopping at the mall."
Adams Outdoor Advertising donated several billboards in Champaign-Urbana, including the digital board on Kirby.
"We felt it was critical in the assistance to try to find her," said Jill Cody, Adams' general manager.
Roy said she's working to get Arnette registered on Web sites and registries listing missing people around the nation.
"I just wish I knew where she was," Roy said.
In addition, Lt. Ogle of the Champaign County sheriff's office said his detectives are working on the Arnette case every day.
But until any news surfaces, Arnette's children are back in school and are undergoing counseling.
"They're doing fine," Roy said. "But the oldest (kids) are afraid of what the outcome will be."