Search intensifies for missing woman with Alzheimer’s after new lead near Arizona Mills

An 80-year-old woman with dementia has been missing for eight days but her sons have new hope after a possible sighting.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 8:05 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Police and family are stepping up the search for a missing 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s after a credible sighting came in Monday morning near Arizona Mills in Tempe. Roberta Braden, who goes by “Bobbie,” has been missing for eight days.

But there’s a renewed sense of hope for brothers Derek and Justin Powell. “I haven’t felt this good in days. This is the most solid lead that we’ve had,” said Justin.

The two have been heading up the volunteer search efforts for their mom, who left Justin’s house last Sunday to go on a walk after a day of golfing and never returned. She has Alzheimer’s, which has really complicated the search. “Her short-term memory resets from 20 seconds to three minutes,” said Derek.

But on Monday, there was a big lead. Derek got a call around 8 a.m. from a food delivery driver who believes he spoke with their mom Sunday night. They believe it was her because of an inside joke phrase she used, a phrase she and her sons would often use together. “She was at the Mcdonald’s drive-thru and said, ‘Justin stole my money and I need to eat,’” Derek recalled of the phone call with the driver. “Just the phrasings that she used, that he reported to me, were just exactly what she would do.”

Because of that, they’ve changed the search area to around Arizona Mills mall, hoping more flyers with their contact information will draw more eyes. Because of her Alzheimer’s, Phoenix police said even though tips are coming in, there is an imperative action to take if you do think you come across her. “If you do see her, stick with her, keep an eye on her until we can get authorities there to vet whether she’s that missing person or not,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Phil Krynsky.

Staying with her until police and family can get there is critical because her sons said she comes off as so confident you likely wouldn’t know she has a severe memory problem. Even though eight days have gone by, Justin and Derek feel hopeful. “I hope we’re going to see her soon. It just feels like she’s so close right now. I can feel her presence here with us,” said Justin.

Bobbie Braden left Justin’s house that day wearing a black and white dri-fit shirt, black shorts, and white golf cleats. If you think you see her, please call 911 to get officers out there.

The search is still on for Roberta Louise Braden who went missing 10 days ago in the area of...
The search is still on for Roberta Louise Braden who went missing 10 days ago in the area of S. 31st Way and E. Caldwell Street.(Phoenix Police Department)

Here are ways to contact her family and also help with search efforts: