Authorities continued to search Wednesday for a woman who went missing on her birthday in Macoupin County almost two weeks ago.
Denita Hedden, 37, was last seen Jan. 25 in the area of Royal Lakes, according to Lt. Kristopher Tharp, deputy commander with the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. Hedden was known to have visited a casino in St. Louis with a friend, and then arrived back in Royal Lakes later in the evening. Witnesses told police she was last seen leaving the 700 block of Catalpa Street at approximately 11 p.m. that evening.
Tharp said Hedden’s disappearance is highly unusual for her.
“This is a woman who is engaged with her family; she’s a mother of four, she’s not reclusive, she’s not the type to be away from the people she loved,” Tharp said. “This is a problem for us. She is in a situation that is out of character and not normal for her lifestyle. We know that this is not like Denita Hedden.”
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Hedden and her husband, Michael Hedden, were in the process of getting a divorce, according to court records. She filed an order of protection against him in 2016.
However, Tharp said Michael Hedden is in the area, and police believe he had no involvement in her disappearance.
“He has been 100 percent cooperative, as has the rest of her family — we’ve had no issues whatsoever,” he said.
Tharp said searches over the past few days had not yielded anything related to Denita Hedden. He said they were looking for anything that might give them a clue as to what happened to her.
“She loves her family, she loves her friends. This is not someone who would do something like this,” he said.
She loves her family, she loves her friends. This is not someone who would do something like this.
Lt. Kristopher Tharp, deputy commander with the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis.
Hedden’s brother, Raymond Dyer, said he wishes someone could give them some answers and let them know where she might be.
“She’s never done something like this, and she would never do anything like this,” Dyer said.
Dyer last spoke to Hedden on her birthday, Jan. 25. He texted her a happy birthday message, but she never texted back. That’s when he realized something was wrong, he said; she always answered her texts.
“She’s been missing two weeks and we haven’t gotten any answers or clues,” Dyer said. “They’ve checked everywhere; they’re doing everything they can.”
More than 40 police, fire and emergency management personnel searched for Hedden from 8 a.m. to dusk Tuesday and Wednesday. First responders have canvassed approximately 35 square miles by land and air, according to a release from the Major Case Squad, including 22,400 acres of rural terrain and 70 road miles.
Tharp said the community has been extremely helpful while authorities search for Hedden. He said they continue to ask property owners, farmers and residents in the area to inspect their property for anything unusual in the interest of finding Hedden or clues that would explain her disappearance. Three more pictures were released that police said were taken the day she disappeared.
“Our searches have affected their lives, affected their commutes and we’ve had to block roads,” he said. “They have been extraordinarily appreciative and patient with us.”
Hedden was last seen leaving her Royal Lakes home at about 2 p.m. Jan. 25 wearing a maroon Nike hoodie sweatshirt with orange sleeves and blue jeans, as well as hoop earrings. She is 5 feet tall and weighs about 110 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.
Dyer asked that if someone knows something, he hopes they will call the Major Case Squad or any law enforcement authority.
“Everyone is missing her,” he said. “Her kids are missing her. I’m missing her. We want her back.”
Anyone with information about Hedden or her whereabouts can contact the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis at 618-585- 3510; the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office at 217-854-3135, ext: 1; or Macoupin and Montgomery County CrimeStoppers at 800-352-0136.