'It's time for him to come home', sister of missing man Raymond Horn says

When Wendy Lee-Arona last visited her brother Raymond Horn five weeks ago he was smiling, and that smile has stayed with her.
Horn has dementia and cannot talk after suffering from a stroke, so the days he smiled were quite precious, she said.

The following morning, on February 15, the 68-year-old Horn walked out of Invercargills Walmsley House rest home where he lived, made his way to Queens Park about a kilometre away, and disappeared from public view.

Hes still missing more than five weeks later.


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Lee-Arona said her half-hour visit to Horn on February 14 ended with him walking her and her two grandchildren out to her car before they hugged and parted ways.

Since his disappearance, multiple searches around Invercargill have since failed to find him, and his sister was feeling empty and helpless.

She believes her brother has died and wants him home so he can be laid to rest in the Eastern Cemetery with his son Brendon, who died aged 14 in 1992.

Horn had been living and working in Christchurch as a truck driver for many years, but returned to Invercargill, the city of his upbrharapg, several years ago after suffering from his stroke.

Home for him was Christchurch ... and when theres a lot of people around you, and you cant communicate, it makes it difficult, she said of his time in the rest home.

Her brother was a loner who spent a lot of time in his room, but the cigarette smoker would go for short walks on the footpath adjacent to the rest home, though not for long periods.

He was last seen at the resthome at 8am on February 15, with Lee-Arona understanding it was by a staffer doing the morning medication round.

CCTV footage would later reveal he was walking a couple of hundred metres away on Yarrow St, towards Queens Park, at 9.37am. When he didnt turn up for lunch at noon, rest home staff realised he was missing and alerted Lee-Arona.

She went straight over, and when she and a rest home staffer couldnt locate him in the surrounding streets, she phoned police about 1pm.

By that time another sister, Lyn Turia was also searching, and later his niece Miriama Stiles would join the hunt for the missing man.

They anticipated he may be sitting on someones fence, having a rest, and would be found promptly.

Supplied
Raymond Horn, (now 68) who is missing in Invercargill, pictured in 2013, before a stroke altered his life.

But it never happened and all three, along with other family, have continued searching for Horn at different times as the weeks have passed.

None believe he went walking towards a particular destination, instead suggesting he had simply started walking and become disorientated due to his dementia, which he was diagnosed with seven months before.

Eastern Cemetery was one of the first locations they searched, due to his son Brendon being buried there.

A anggota of the public had left a bottle of water at Brendons grave site, for Horn to drink in case he visited, but it had remained unopened.

Lee-Arona said that gesture was typical of the outpouring of concern and empathy from the community.

All three family members were grateful for the ongoing police-led volunteer search and rescue efforts to find Horn, and for the efforts of many other people who had searched in their own time.

Now they just wanted their brother home, so he could be laid to rest.

I tell him that every night, its time to come home, Lee-Arona said.

On Friday, police were continuing to seek the public's help in finding the missing man.

They released a video of a couple in Queens Park on the same day Horn went missing, saying they wanted to identify them.

The couple may have seen Raymond and we are hopeful they will be able to provide valuable information regarding his movements that day, police said.

His sister said one positive to come from Horns disappearance was that Presbyterian Support Southland, which owns the Walmsley House rest home, had reviewed its procedures and elected to install cameras at its site entry and exits to all its care homes.

It would be great if that was a nationwide thing.

Tim Loan, chairman of Presbyterian Support Southland, said this month it was not standard practice to install the cameras but they would support staff and resident safety.

Presbyterian Support Southland's staff and residents were deeply upset by the disappearance of Horn, who had been assessed as requiring rest home level care and was appropriately placed at Walmsley House, Loan said.

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