It has now been two weeks since a Red Deer woman went missing and her family continues to desperately seek answers into her disappearance.
Lorie Joy Nichols, 49, was last seen on the morning of Feb. 23rd in Red Deer. Her husband, Greg Nichols reported her missing later that evening.
Earlier this week a tip surfaced that Lorie may have changed her hair colour from brunette to blonde. Lorie is described as 5’2” tall with a slender build. She has hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a three-quarter length charcoal winter jacket with gray/black lace up winter boots, medium blue tight fittings jeans with discernible tears to the knees and thighs. She is believed to have a gray woolen loose fitting toque and an over shoulder dark green/black strapped bag with white and yellow lettering.
“It has been strongly suggested to us that she may have changed her appearance and she may now be blonde and no longer brunette,” said Greg, adding there is also strong indication that Lorie may have been seen last Saturday morning at Burger Boy.
As for Feb. 23rd, Greg said the day began like any other.
“On the morning of the 23rd I went to work a little earlier than I normally do. My youngest son Seth is 17 and he goes to Hunting Hills High School. He has epilepsy and learning difficulties. Lorie and Seth are very, very, very close,” said Greg, adding the pair have been married for 25 years and have three children. “She got him up and fed him breakfast, got him off to school and then apparently she travelled east of our place to Clearview to visit a lady named Fran she had befriended who she would see on a regular basis just to make sure Fran’s spirits were up and to chat. We spoke with Fran who said Lorie was disturbed that morning and almost couldn’t stay for whatever reason. The neighbours then saw Lorie come back to the house at 10 a.m. They did not see her leave again.”
Greg said Lorie did her normal routine around the house that morning which included making the beds, taking the garbage out, cleaning up and doing some laundry. “When she left the home she did not take any personal effects with her – no toiletries, no extra clothes – she basically walked out the door.”
Greg added Lorie’s credit cards and bank cards have not been used since her disappearance. She did not have a cell phone nor access to a vehicle as she does not have her driver’s license.
There is concern for Lorie’s well-being as she has a history of difficulties with mental health as she has struggled with depression and anxiety.
“Lorie is a very, very, very compassionate and charitable person. Lorie has volunteered and has had a really strong connection with the homeless community downtown. She used to volunteer at Loaves and Fishes. We would make meals and feed people out of the back of our truck on Sunday nights at Loaves and Fishes when there was no other meal in town to be had,” said Greg. “She is the kindest person I’ve ever met in my whole, entire life and she really makes a big impact on everybody that she comes across.
“The sad part is that Lorie has struggled with depression and anxiety for our whole relationship.”
Greg added it is out of character for Lorie to leave and not tell anyone where she is going.
“When she wasn’t at home when I got home on Tuesday night, I knew that was a red flag for me. When the boys hadn’t seen her, that was a red flag. I didn’t want to hit the panic button and alert the authorities unnecessarily, so I set a time on the clock for 9 p.m. and said if I hadn’t seen her by then I was absolutely going to the police – at 9:01 p.m. I was downtown,” said Greg. “They responded and there was a member at our home by 10:30 p.m. and they did a search of the home and they interviewed both of my boys privately. The next morning they had Search and Rescue and had helicopters out.”
Greg added one of the things that helps with Lorie’s anxiety is going for walks. “She travels a lot so it was not unusual for her to walk every day and she can put on miles – it is not uncommon for her to put on 15 miles a day. One of the things that was irregular about this walk was we have three large dogs and she would normally take a dog with her and she did not so that was one of the things that made me concerned,” he said, adding he has recently offered a $5,000 reward for any information regarding Lorie’s direct whereabouts and/or direction to her exact location.
Greg added he believes that Lorie could be in Red Deer’s downtown area.
“We strongly believe that she is moving with people that misguidedly want to ‘protect her’,” he said. “We really, really do not care where she’s gone or who she has been with and we don’t care why she left. Our only thing that we want is to bring her home and to get her back with her family.”
Meanwhile, Greg said his family is holding up the best they can as they eagerly await information regarding Lorie’s whereabouts.
“The boys have done remarkably well. My youngest one is starting to feel disconnected – I can tell. He is starting to withdraw a little bit,” he said. “They are waiting for dad to bring mom home.”
Anyone with information on Lorie’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575.