Search continues for missing Royal Lakes woman

Search continues for missing Royal Lakes woman

ROYAL LAKES (Feb. 8, 2018) – Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl has enlisted the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis to help in the search for Denita M. Hedden, 37, of Royal Lakes.

Hedden was reported missing by an acquaintance at 11:49 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 28. She was last seen leaving her residence around 2 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, wearing a maroon hoodie sweatshirt with orange sleeves and blue jeans. Hedden is 5 feet tall, weighs approximately 110 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes.

“The fact that Hedden has had no contact with family and friends for an extended amount of time raises considerable concern,” read a statement issued by Lt. Kristopher Tharp, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad. “This disappearance, due to its duration, is considered suspicious.”

The Major Case Squad is operating out of the Bunker Hill Police Department. On Tuesday, Feb. 6, dozens of emergency personnel from surrounding communities joined in an all-day search rescue operation in Royal Lakes and the surrounding area, using both all-terrain vehicles and drones; by noon, the search had stretched to Route 138 and Stagecoach Road.

In another statement announcing the search, Tharp said a large contingent of first responders, including law enforcement and fire department personnel, would be participating in the search, which could create a delayed commute for those traveling in the area. “There is no known public threat or reason for alarm.”

Emergency vehicles were stationed at the Royal Lakes Village Hall, as well as in a field between Royal Lakes and Shipman, during the search. American Red Cross Disaster Relief provided hot drinks, water, and snacks for those searching. The search was expected to last from approximately 8 a.m. until dusk.

“No inference should be made regarding the status of this investigation based on this development,” said Tharp of the search. “Its purposes are to assist Major Case Squad investigators in locating Denita Hedden and finding answers to her sudden and abrupt disappearance.”

Hedden’s family and friends gathered for a candlelight prayer circle Saturday evening, Feb. 3 ,at Welfare Park in Gillespie.

Anyone with information about Hedden or her whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Major Case Squad at (618) 585-3510; Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office at (217) 854-3135, ext. 1; or Macoupin and Montgomery Count Crime Stoppers at (800) 352-0136.


Emergency personnel trek along Route 159 near the Miles Station Road as part of a large search and rescue operation conducted Tuesday in and around Royal Lakes in connection with the Jan. 25 disappearance of Denita M. Hedden.