North Dakota authorities are still searching for a 47-year-old mother who went missing nearly two weeks ago after leaving a small gathering on foot—and family members believe her disappearance may be tied to a love triangle.
Anne Fitzsimonds, 47, walked away from the party at a farmstead in rural Petersburg—at least 26 miles away from her Inkster home—around 1:30 a.m on Oct. 4. She was wearing only a leather jacket, jeans, and cowboy boots, despite the frigid temperature, which dipped as low as 29 degrees.
“There was no reason for her to leave. Why she left nobody seems to be able to tell us,” her older brother, George Niece, told the Grand Forks Herald, adding that the search over vast rural North Dakota has been “absolutely daunting.” “Scary, so scary. On one hand, you want to find her, but on the other hand, you don't want to find her; you just want her home.”
Niece believes his sister’s disappearance may be connected to her longtime battle with drug addiction and her recent infidelity in her 30-year marriage.
“In this case, there was a love triangle, I think, and I think there is drugs; that’s going to be money. It doesn’t look good,” Niece told the Herald.
Since the news of his sister’s disappearance, Niece has temporarily left his job in the Twin Cities to assist the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department with their search—and is offering a $5,000 reward for helpful information related to the case. But the sheriff’s department says that, at this point, their investigation is still considered a “missing persons” case.
The sheriff’s office added there have been two unconfirmed sightings of Fitzsimonds since Oct. 4: one at a gas station on Highway 2 in Michigan, North Dakota, and another two days later in Cando, about an hour away.
Nelson County Sheriff Keith Olson told the Herald that while the mother-of-two had a habit of going away “for weeks at a time” she usually contacted someone. People at the party, which may have involved drugs, have also given authorities conflicting stories about the night, he added.
On Thursday, several investigators conducted a massive search on the Petersburg farmstead, assisted by five cadaver dogs and Valley Water Rescue. Harsh winds, however, impeded their search, and investigators were unable to locate any evidence on the property.
“Police tracking and cadaver dogs searched the area around where Anne disappeared and nothing was found,” Niece wrote on Facebook Thursday evening. “Still hoping that Anne...will be found soon.”
Authorities have finally tracked down Fitzsimonds’ truck, which her new boyfriend had been reportedly using over the last week. The Grand Forks Herald also reports the boyfriend, referred to as “Brad” in Niece’s Facebook posts, drove the white pick-up truck home the night the 47-year-old disappeared.
The sheriff’s department said investigators had trouble locating the vehicle because there were multiple names on its title—including the owner of the farmstead, who voluntarily gave up the car on Thursday evening.
“Yesterday the pickup that Anne bought from Connie that was titled as an ‘OR’ with both their names was impounded by the police,” Niece wrote in a Friday Facebook post. “That’s more than a week after she disappeared and both Brad, her fling, and Connie have been using it over the last week. This truck was back at the house Anne was last seen at, although apparently in Edinburg the night she disappeared.”
Niece, who described his little sister as a loving person, is also making sure his niece and nephew are taken care of during the “long road ahead when their Mom returns,” he said on Facebook. In a GoFundMe page Niece set up for the children, he revealed they “were not regularly getting dental, medical, or schooling” and said the family’s home is in need of some repairs.
“As we’ve searched for Anne and helped to refurbish the family home for the children, we realized that neither Valerie or John have the basics that many of us take for granted,” the GoFundMe states. “The kids are amazing and literally anything given help them to grow into strong adults who can live and work in our Eastern North Dakota community.”