Search for missing man shifts to Pell Lake

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TOWN OF GENEVA -- Police say they have shifted their search for a missing town of Geneva man to the Pell Lake area.

James L. Demeuse has been missing since he was released from the Walworth County Jail in Elkhorn on Friday.

Police received a tip Tuesday morning from someone who spotted a man who might be Demeuse in Pell Lake, so town of Geneva police will work with town of Bloomfield Police in Pell Lake, said town of Geneva Police Chief Ken Mulhollon.

The sighting in Pell Lake was on Saturday. Mulhollon said he didn't know why the tipster waited to come forward.

This was the second tip that Demeuse might be in Pell Lake, Mulhollon said.

Pell Lake is about six miles southeast of Lake Geneva.

Speculation was that Demeuse, 70, was walking home, a 10-mile distance, after his release from jail, Mulhollon said.

Family members have told news reporters Demeuse has dementia, but Mulhollon said Demeuse has never been diagnosed, although family members say he has displayed symptoms.

“As far as we know, he is able to make decisions and care for himself. But we don't know if he just voluntarily wants to be gone or if there is some kind of mental health issue going on and he doesn't know what he is doing,” Mulhollon said. “We wish we had more answers right now, but we don't.”

Town of Geneva police had arrested Demeuse on Thursday on domestic abuse charges. Mulhollon declined to give details about that incident.

Demeuse was taken to the jail Thursday and was released after his initial court appearance at 3:47 p.m. Friday, said jail administrator John Delaney.

Online court records indicate Demeuse appeared before a Walworth County judge, who released him on a signature bond with orders that he not possess any weapons and not contact any of the victims in the case.

Demeuse is scheduled to appear in court Friday morning.

Family members have complained to reporters that they should have been informed when Demeuse was released, but Delaney said jail staff noticed no problems with Demuese's mental health.

For those with mental health problems, the jail has a social worker, and if it appears someone needs to be held for his own safety, deputies can be called, Delaney said.

Someone who might have been Demeuse was last seen walking in the median of Highway 12 near Springfield Road just north of Lake Geneva about five miles from the jail and five miles from his home.

Authorities searched a 10-mile radius of that area over the weekend, using drones, a helicopter and dogs as well as searchers on foot, Mulhollon said.

Demeuse has not used his credit cards or cashed any checks, Mulhollon said Tuesday morning.

It's possible Demeuse is staying with someone the family doesn't know, the chief speculated.

Demeuse is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 160 pounds, balding with gray hair and blue eyes, last seen wearing a blue Fila shirt, black pants and white Nike tennis shoes.

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