Connecticut Woman Vanishes While Hiking in Japan

Patricia Wu-Murad hasn't been seen since April 10
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2023 8:14 AM CDT
American Hiker Vanishes on Japanese Trail
   (Gety / RuslanDashinsky)

A 60-year-old Connecticut woman vanished on a hiking trail in Japan last month, and her family has traveled there to organize a remarkable search effort. But hope is fading because Patricia Wu-Murad has not been seen since April 10. "We're trying to hold out for a miracle but we're heartbroken," husband Kirk Murad tells CT Insider.

  • Lost: Wu-Murad, an experienced hiker, checked into a guesthouse on April 9 along an ancient pilgrimage trail called the Kumano Kodo in a mountainous region of southern Japan, per the Hartford Courant. She left the following morning but never arrived at the next guesthouse.

  • Help: Wu-Murad's family in Storr raised more than $170,000 in an online fundraiser so Kirk and adult daughter Murphy could travel to Japan to organize rescue missions, pay for aerial searches, etc. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked Japanese authorities to step up the search as well, per NBC Connecticut. Local police initially stopped searching after three days, but they have since resumed.
  • Volunteer team: The family also put out pleas for help in the US, and a team of nearly two dozen volunteers from California and Hawaii flew to Japan the third week of April, reports the Washington Post. "It’s sort of astonishing that we were contacted in the afternoon, and by the next morning we were all on a flight," says volunteer Molly Williams. The team rappelled down steep terrain but found no sign of Wu-Murad before returning to the US. They did, however, give the family more guidance on where and how to search.
  • Experience: Wu-Murad has hiked abroad previously, sometimes alone, as she was this time. "Unless something came up that was unexpected, this would have never have happened to her," says sister-in-law Julie Murad-Caruso. "I heard there could be mudslides or avalanches out there. There are some animals like a specific snake. Something caught her off-guard maybe."
(More missing person stories.)

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