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Search continues for missing woman in Great Falls

Search continues for missing Great Falls woman
Posted at 10:54 AM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 13:00:34-05

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter says volunteers searching for a missing woman have been released from the scene.

About 185 volunteers showed up at Faith Lutheran Church on Wednesday morning after the Sheriff's Office put out a call for help in the continuing search for Amy Hardin-Permann of Great Falls, who was last seen on Sunday evening.

The volunteers were told to arrive before 7:30 a.m. and were given a briefing of the situation and the general area and provided with search and safety instructions. They were then sent out in groups to cover designated areas.
Sheriff Slaughter says that the volunteers searched all of the designated areas, and were released before 1 p.m.

During a news conference at 3:15 p.m., Sheriff Slaughter thanked all of the volunteers for their efforts, and the Great Falls community for their continued support, and said that there may be another call for volunteers at some point. Harding, a 34-year old nurse in Great Falls, was last seen leaving her residence at 343 Flood Road on foot at about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26.

Sheriff Slaughter said on Monday that Harding got into an argument with her boyfriend John VanGilder at the residence. She then allegedly assaulted him before leaving the house and headed in the direction of the Missouri River, which is very close to the house. VanGilder told police she was not dressed for the weather as she was only wearing a long sleeve shirt and yoga pants.

Sheriff Slaughter said that search crews were called out quickly because Harding was not dressed for the weather; temperatures at the time were in the 30s, with wind-chills below freezing.

"At the point that our initial search did not find her, due to the weather conditions, her not being dressed appropriately and due to the environment and conditions we were in, she was a missing person,” he explained.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Slaughter declined to release details of any possible criminal investigation, and stressed that at this point, it remains a missing person investigation. However, KRTV has learned that the house has been secured by law enforcement since the investigation began.

Searchers and detectives from the Sheriff's office, Great Falls Police Department, Malmstrom Air Force Base, and rural fire departments looked throughout Monday and Tuesday on the ground, in the river, and in the air with a helicopter and drone. Search dogs are also being used.