, 2015

Investigation continues regarding
whereabouts of Claudine J. Gifford

LANCASTER—Despite extensive search efforts, supported by local businesses and volunteers, and state resources, Claudine J. Gifford, 43, of the Burgess area, has yet to be found, according to a statement from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Monday, July 14.

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The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is interested in speaking with four white males who assisted Claudine Gifford into a silver, four-door Nissan sport utility vehicle July 6, near the tiki bar at Pelican’s at the Point, 40 Windjammer Lane, Windmill Point.

These four males are asked to contact Lt. E.T. Self or Inv. D.S. Hogge at the sheriff’s office, 462-5111.

Gifford was seen last in the early evening of Sunday, July 6, in the area of Windmill Point Marina, according to the release.

On Saturday, 53 volunteers plus support staff of Virginia’s state search and rescue groups converged at Windmill Point to conduct a thorough, detailed search for Gifford or any evidence related to her and her disappearance.

Participating in the search were members of the Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group of Vienna, Greater Atlantic Rescue Dogs of Virginia Beach, Piedmont Search and Rescue of Richmond, Tidewater Search and Rescue of Virginia Beach, Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association of Northern Virginia, Dogs East of Spotsylvania, and K-9 Alert of Richmond.

This combined search group arrived with its own command post and staff complete with radios, maps and GPS mapping equipment, according to the statement. The search teams covered all land and marsh areas from Oyster House Drive south to the end of Windmill Point Road. A separate search area, between the Corbin Lewis Estate and Close Quarters subdivision, was included because Gifford’s cellphone was “pinged” off the cell tower in that area after she went missing.

A detailed GPS report will be provided to the sheriff’s office later this week, showing where each search team member went throughout the 12 hours it took to cover both areas. Investigator D.S. Hogge arranged for the state search and rescue units to conduct the extensive search operation.

Supporting the volunteers and other state and local agencies were the White Stone Volunteer Fire Department (ice, tables and chairs for meals); Kilmarnock Volunteer Fire Department (cook staff), Anna’s Pizza (food and drink), Kilmarnock Volunteer Rescue Squad (medical stand-by for search personnel), Lloyd B. Hubbard (food tent), Windmill Point Marina (electrical services, 2 boats slips, golf cart, command post location), Sports Center (commercial grill for meal preparation), Virginia State Police (helicopter unit), Virginia Marine Resources Commission (boat and crew), and the Virginia Department of Emergency Services (coordinated request for state search and rescue volunteers).

Sheriff Crockett complimented the search and rescue volunteers, saying “It’s amazing to see so many volunteers who spend their time and their money to help someone else. All of these people have my thanks for coming out to help. It was hot, tiring work, and not the first complaint from any one of them.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the search and rescue teams may do so by contacting the sheriff’s office.

“I could not have asked for more help from the local businesses, fire departments, and individuals who have done their best to help my office with this case. We are all truly very grateful to the community that never fails to come forward when help is needed.”

Lt. E.T. Self, chief investigator in charge of the case, said, “EMS Chief Terry McGregor was awesome. He was on site the entire time doing whatever needed to be done to help the search operation run smoothly. The VMRC boat operator not only helped with the shoreline search on Thursday and again on Saturday, he helped with the ground search on Thursday as well. Doc Lyons, a retired state police investigator and now with the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office, was most helpful with his expertise as a consultant on cases of this nature. Glenn Rowe, who handles the county’s E911 mapping system, provided us with the oversized detailed maps of the search areas that were vital to the coordination of the search teams.”

Although any active search operation has been curtailed, the investigation as to what happened to Gifford is still active.

Anyone with information about Gifford’s disappearance, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is asked to contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Office, 462-5111, or call Lancaster County Crime Solvers, 462-7463.

Gifford’s friends have assisted with the search, printed and distributed fliers containing Gifford’s photo, and established a Facebook page, BRING Claudine HOME.

One of the Facebook posts notes that a “Richard Gifford/Bring Claudine Home” fund has been established at the Bank of Lancaster to assist with search expenses and help family members while here in Lancaster.

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