Law enforcement officers from seven agencies on Monday expanded their search around the Prescumpscot River for 37-year-old Anneliese Heinig, who was reported missing on Thanksgiving Day.

The Richmond woman stopped her SUV early on the morning of Nov. 26 on the shoulder of the northbound lanes of Interstate 295 in Falmouth, just north of the Presumpscot River overpass, where another motorist spotted her walking south, away from her vehicle, said Falmouth Police, who are assisting in the search.

Her vehicle was towed from the highway that day at the direction of state police, and her parents, the registered owners of the vehicle, are wondering why they were not contacted at the time and only learned two days later that the car was in the towing company’s lot.

State police troopers also took part in the search Monday, as did members of the Maine Marine Patrol, the Maine Warden Service, the Richmond and Portland police departments, and the Falmouth Fire Department, who scoured areas of I-295, Middle Road and the Presumpscot River in Falmouth on foot, by boat and from an aerial drone, according to a post Monday by the Falmouth Police Department on Facebook.

“As part of the search efforts, citizens may see unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and water patrols in these general areas,” the post stated. “Law enforcement plans on working these locations throughout the day, and we ask for your patience as we safely conduct these searches in inclement weather.”

Falmouth police Lt. Jeff Pardue said Monday that search operations were expected to end for the day in late afternoon. Officials are expected to gather again Tuesday morning to determine whether resuming the search is practical or safe, given the heavy snow that’s expected to fall across the region Monday night into Tuesday.

“We remain hopeful that we will find Anneliese Heinig alive and well,” Pardue said.

However, he said he had no additional information beyond what was reported earlier in the day.

“We’re going to continue to search as long as it takes,” he said, “and we’ll announce anything we learn immediately.”

A week after Heinig was last seen, family and friends remain puzzled about why she was in the Portland area.

“I had last spoken to her on Monday,” said Anne Heinig, Heinig’s mother. “She was in a great mood.”

When Anneliese Heinig did not show up for Thanksgiving dinner with her relatives, her 16-year-old daughter reported her missing to Richmond police, Anne Heinig said.

Photos of Anneliese Heinig, the 37-year-old woman from Richmond who has been missing since Nov. 26. Photos courtesy of the Richmond Police Department

The family learned that Heinig’s vehicle – a 2008 Mercury Mariner that was registered to her parents in Harpswell – was towed from I-295 a few hours after someone last saw Heinig walking away from the SUV last Tuesday. Falmouth police said Maine State Police asked for the car to be towed from the highway, and Anne Heinig is puzzled as to why no one tried to contact her or her husband, whose names are on the registration paperwork.

“We’re the registered owners,” Anne said. “Our names are right in the glove compartment.”

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police, said troopers usually try to contact the owner of a vehicle that appears abandoned on the highway. But he did not specify whether phone numbers are a standard part of the Bureau of Motor Vehicle information that police can access from the computer terminals in their cruisers.

“Phone numbers are readily accessible,” McCausland said.

He confirmed that Maine State Police ordered the tow, but he did not know whether the trooper who called in the tow tried to contact the vehicle’s owners.

“All of this information is (for) Richmond PD,” McCausland said. “What we have amassed, we have forwarded to Richmond police.”

Chris Heinig, Heinig’s father, said he intends to ask state police why he was not called when the vehicle was found.

“We would have known within hours (that Anneliese was missing) and not (two) days later,” he said.

After Heinig was reported missing to the Richmond police, investigators pinged Anneliese’s cellphone, Anne Heinig said. The signal led family members to the tow company lot that had picked up the vehicle. Inside the car, police found Heinig’s car keys, wallet and most of her credit cards. Anne Heinig noted that the SUV was equipped with a numerical keypad to unlock the driver’s door, so Anneliese could easily get back into the car without keys.

When Anne and her husband picked up the SUV from a tow lot in South Portland, they noticed the low-gas light had come on, and the tank was so close to empty that a tow truck driver followed them to a gas station after the family picked up the vehicle. The vehicle was registered to Anne, she said, and her daughter had been borrowing the car for the last couple of months while she saved up to buy a new vehicle of her own.

“We don’t really know what happened. We’re completely clueless, it’s just a mystery,” Heinig said. “As far as I know, she had run out of gas and got out of her car and I presume she might have been walking to get gas. And she had her driver’s license with her. She didn’t have her whole wallet. She used to carry cash.”

On Monday, Dick Stewart, of Stewart’s Towing, confirmed he’d received a call from the state police to pick up the vehicle near mile marker 9 on I-295, but troopers were not present when he arrived.

Heinig lives with her 16-year-old daughter in Richmond. Her 5-year-old son lives close to Heinig’s apartment with his father, Anne Heinig said. Although Anneliese separated from her son’s father, they still share parenting responsibilities on a day-to-day basis.

Heinig has no history of suicide attempts, Anne Heinig said. Anneliese Heinig had made plans to take her daughter to a spa this past weekend as a 16th birthday present, Anne Heinig said, and police found birthday party-themed items in the back of the SUV.

In Richmond, Charlie Ipcar, Heinig’s landlord, said he’s known her for about 15 years. She had rented an apartment from him early on, and about three years ago moved back in.

Ipcar said he recalls seeing her heading out early either last Monday or Tuesday morning when he went out to get the newspaper, but he has no idea why she might have been going to Portland.

He said she had recently started a new job that she liked.

“She’s an artist,” Ipcar said. “She paints landscapes and people. She’s got good friends.”

Rachel Holbrook, a shift supervisor of the Dunkin’ on Route 197 in Richmond, near the interchange at I-295, said Heinig had worked there until about three months ago.

“She’s all about her kids,” Holbrook said, noting that they have children in the same school and would see each other picking them up. “For her not to go home is extremely unusual.”

Anyone with information on Heinig, or who may have seen her at any point after last Tuesday morning, is asked to call the Richmond Police Department at 207-737-8518.

Heinig is 5 feet, 1 inch tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, pants, hat and shoes.

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