Petersburg, N.D. — Several investigators spent hours Thursday, Oct. 15, searching a farmstead in rural Petersburg where 47-year-old Anne Fitzsimonds was last seen alive on Sunday, Oct. 4, when she walked off into the night during a party.
Investigators, assisted by Valley Water Rescue, brought five dogs. One tried to pickup a scent as investigators tried to figure out which way Fitzsimonds may have walked. The other four were cadaver dogs.
"If the victim is deceased, the longer period of time, the more scent the victim gives off and the dogs have a better chance of finding a victim," explained Valley Water Rescue President Pete Fendt.
The dogs were unable to pick up any scents. However, their time on the farm was cut short after about two and a half hours.
"The wind is kind of hard. The dogs have to work with the wind; if we would have had a gentle breeze it would have been better," Fendt said.
Investigators also spent several hours outside on the farm.
"It's been a hard one," explained lead investigator and Nelson County Sheriff's Deputy Jesse Madche.
Part of the problem is that police have been given conflicting stories about what was going on at the house that night and why Fitzsimonds walked away.
Police say alcohol was definitely being consumed, and there may have been drug use too. Complicating the story, Fitzsimonds' family says she was cheating on her husband.
"This is classified as a missing person until we get a lead to change that to something else," Madche said.
Police did not leave the farm empty handed, as they seized Fitzsimonds' truck. Her new boyfriend reportedly drove it home the night she disappeared. The sheriff said police could not initially get their hands on the truck because there are multiple names on the title, including the owner of the farmstead.
The farmstead owner voluntarily surrendered the truck Thursday.
Despite that, police said they left just as stumped as when they arrived.
"So we are going to come up with a new plan," Madche said.
Both police and Fitzsimonds' family are asking hunters to keep an eye out for anything suspicious as they are out in the field.
The farmstead where she disappeared is three and a half miles north of Petersburg off County Road 5 and just south of the WDAZ tower.
Fitzsimonds' family is offering a $5,000 reward for the tip that leads them to her, dead or alive.
A GoFundMe page was also started to help her two school-aged children.