New details in bizarre case of missing Anthem woman JoAnn Dudek one year after disappearance

The niece of missing Anthem woman JoAnn Dudek reveals new bizarre details about the case but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 8:58 PM MST
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ANTHEM, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — It’s been nearly one year since the bizarre disappearance of an Anthem woman. Her family is flying in from across the country this weekend to hold a vigil and mark an anniversary they certainly never wanted. Investigators said JoAnn Dudek vanished last year under suspicious circumstances, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case as a homicide.

We’re learning new details about the investigation from her family and investigators. There are several bizarre and unexplainable factors. They are a mom who seemingly vanished into thin air, possible phone calls that may or may not exist from Dudek after she disappeared, and the mysterious death of someone else months later.

An album of pictures of Dudek tells the story of a woman who lived life to the fullest, making her disappearance even more perplexing and ominous. “We are holding out hope but we are deeply, deeply concerned by the circumstances surrounding JoAnn’s disappearance,” said Dudek’s niece, Erin Murtha.

Dudek lived in Anthem and last year was getting ready to visit Murtha and other family in New York City for the holidays. “She was actually talking to my mom the evening of Nov. 13. They were text messaging with each other about this upcoming trip and flights, and that’s the last time my family heard from JoAnn,” said Murtha.

Murtha said Dudek lived with her husband, Walter Dudek, and their daughter, who told the rest of the family JoAnn’s belongings were still in their home. “She left behind her cell phone,” said Murtha. “She left behind her wallet, she left behind her car. So, it didn’t make sense to us how she would even leave without any of those very essential items with her.”

Murtha said JoAnn’s daughter claimed her mother called her after the 13th, but Murtha said nobody has been able to verify that. Thanksgiving came and went, and Murtha’s family filed a missing persons report from out of state. MCSO quickly moved the investigation to their homicide unit. “That was when we really knew that something was wrong,” Murtha said with tears in her eyes.

Then, an unexpected and unfortunate turn. JoAnn’s husband Walter had a seizure just weeks after JoAnn went missing, was diagnosed with a brain lesion and died in April of this year. “As this investigation has continued to move forward, that’s just a resource for information that we no longer have and it’s a huge loss,” said Murtha.

MCO told us everything about this disappearance is suspicious; they have served multiple search warrants, and they are waiting on examination results. Ahead of holding a vigil for their beloved JoAnn on Sunday, Murtha said their family does not believe JoAnn made it anywhere outside Arizona and that they don’t believe a stranger is involved. “We as a family find it highly unlikely that there was someone outside or random involved in her disappearance, and if it was someone known to her that was involved in her disappearance, we hope that Maricopa County keeps their resources on this investigation and holds that person or persons accountable,” Murtha said.

This Sunday, Murtha and the rest of her family will honor JoAnn’s life with a vigil in Anthem and want to remind the community they won’t stop until they get answers as to what happened to her. She also said because of the investigation, there are things she can’t publicly say or comment on yet but hopes to be able to soon.

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