Community stepping up to find missing hiker last seen near Cave Creek trail

The search continues for 60-year-old Kathleen Patterson who was reported missing Sunday morning while hiking near the Spur Cross Trail in Cave Creek.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 7:51 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 9:51 PM MST
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UPDATE: Kathleen Patterson’s body was found by a volunteer searcher. Click here for more details.

CAVE CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The search continues for 60-year-old Kathleen Patterson. She went missing Sunday morning while hiking near the Spur Cross Trail in Cave Creek, and now the community is stepping up to help find her. Hundreds of people in the Valley are looking to help, something Kathleen’s family says gives them hope.

Steve Patterson hasn’t heard from his wife of 37 years since Sunday morning. “She sent me at text at 10:02 a.m. that said specifically ‘Hey babe I’ve gotten off route. I’m OK. Plenty of water. All good,’” Patterson said.

He checked in with her about an hour later. Kathleen said she was on her way back to her car, but that’s when something changed. “That was the last conversation we had,” Patterson said. “When I saw her car it was about three in the afternoon and I immediately knew something was wrong.”

The couple moved here four years ago. Steve said Kathleen is an avid hiker, but it was her first time at the Spur Cross Trailhead. “My sense is she’s still here but off the trail injured and can’t respond,” Patterson said.

“We’ve had people on horseback, drones, we had a couple of guys doing paragliding, we have Arizona SARTAC which is our own search and rescue team,” said Sunny Parker, founder of Arizona Foothills 911 nonprofit. “We had people on bicycles. We had people spend the night out looking for her last night.”

Parker has been posting about Kathleen on social media nonstop. She says more than 200 volunteers have stepped up over the last 48 hours to hike and search the area.

Paul Diefenderfer is one of many volunteers. “I’ve been out for 10 hours today,” he said. “You gotta help on situations like this. It’s horrible and if I can help and others can help, you gotta do it.” As for Kathleen’s family, they aren’t giving up. “We’re going to keep looking,” they said.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has their Search and Rescue team looking for Kathleen. She was last seen wearing a green tank top, white visor and royal blue backpack. If you see her or know her whereabouts, call MCSO at 602-876-1011. Arizona Foothills 911 has created a PayPal account to help with the search and rescue efforts. To donate, you can click/tap here.