Couple Tracks Missing Elderly Couple by Credit Card

Family tracked parents by credit card

By Andrew Tanielian
|  Tuesday, May 29, 2012  |  Updated 8:25 PM CDT
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A missing Bedford couple has been found in Arkansas and is returning to North Texas.

Andrew Tanielian, NBC 5 News

A missing Bedford couple has been found in Arkansas and is returning to North Texas.

A missing North Texas couple with Alzheimer's disease and dementia were safely found in Arkansas by police after their credit card company tracked their spending.

Robert and Sarah Maggard disappeared from their Bedford home early Monday morning. Robert Maggard has early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and Sarah Maggard has some dementia.

Their daughter-in-law, Jennifer Maggard, said she became concerned when the couple didn't answer their phone, which is rare.

She and her husband drove by his parents' home to check on them and discovered the couple and their car were missing.

Bedford police reached out to Robert and Sarah Maggard's credit card company to help with the search.

Jennifer Maggard's husband had access to their credit card account and tracked his parents online. He discovered they had been at a gas station in Saginaw on Sunday afternoon and at a gas station in Purcell, Okla., on Monday.

But the information was two hours behind. After the couple again filled their tank in Arkansas, their credit card company began tracking the Maggards in real time.

The couple was found 354 miles from Bedford at a gas station in Conway, Ark.

Bedford police worked with Conway police to send officers, who found the couple healthy and unharmed but unaware of where they were or how they got there.

"We were very relieved, very grateful for the professionalism of all the organizations involved," Jennifer Maggard said. "They are safe, healthy. They were found quickly."

She said she and her husband also learned an important lesson they want others to know.

Texas has specific requirements for issuing what's called a "Silver Alert" for missing elderly couples.

The most involved requirement asks for an official note or letter from the missing person's doctor explaining his or her "impaired mental condition." Jennifer Maggard and her husband quickly found it, but the Silver Alert could have been issued faster if they had found it sooner.

The North Central Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association said it is not traditional for a missing couple's family to track them in addition to police.

When asked if adult children should have enough financial information to track their parents the way the Maggards did, the organization said that anything helps. Tracking by credit card is usually something police do with the credit card company.

The Alzheimer's Association has two programs that help track down "wandering" elderly people.

MedicAlert + Safe Return is a confidential database filled with the person's vital information, including their diagnosis, medication, caregiver information and family contacts.

The program is staffed 24/7 and helps coordinate with law enforcement if someone is missing. It is typically used to find people who locally wander, but is nationwide and can help find people around the country.

Susanna Luk-Jones, North Central Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association director of program services said that 98 percent of the people registered in the program are safely returned.

The group also has Comfort Zone, which is meant for seniors who still drive. People in the program wear a tracker and can always be located by a monitoring agency.

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