Weather Forecast


Divers searching Red River for missing Fargo woman

Laura Williams-Jaffe1 / 2
Members of Valley Water Rescue start drilling a series of holes in the frozen Red River near the downtown dam Thursday morning as they prepare for a search for missing woman Laura Williams-Jaffe who went missing last week. (Dave Wallis/The Forum)2 / 2

Updated 11:16 a.m.

FARGO - Divers began a search of the Red River this morning seeking to determine whether a missing woman had drowned in the waters.

About a dozen rescue specialists geared up in 8 degree weather to start the river search for Laura Williams-Jaffe, 56, a Fargo woman who has been missing since last week.

Fargo Police Lt. Pat Claus said the river is the river is the strongest lead so far in the case. A blood-hound tracked Williams-Jaffe's scent to the river and shoe or boot prints roughly matching her footwear were found near the water's edge.

Pete Fendt, president of Valley Water Rescue said his divers today will not enter the water unless a body is found. Otherwise, they will bore holes in the ice and use cameras to check the river.

The crew also is checking such things as the river flow and stability of the river's banks to look for clues.

Fendt said is working on some of the worse ice conditions they've had to deal with since the group was started. They are working off a boat ramp at Dike West along the Red River.

Early this morning, the rescue workers used what looked like a bleach bottle to determine how a body might act in the river. Throwing it in the river, they watched where the current took the bottle, whether it was downstream or elsewhere, such as into a bend.

As of 11 a.m. today, the rescue crew had drilled a field of 60 holes in the ice just above the open water at the mid-town dam. Four teams of workers are methodically canvassing the field, using underwater cameras to poke into the holes and search the area. The rescue workers are using long poles with cameras attached to the end to dip into the water and search underwater.

Fendt said they will be concentrating on some high probability areas along the river.

Mike Williams, a brother of Williams-Jaffe, thanked everyone for all of the assistance and urges people to continue looking for her.

The Salvation Army and Fargo Fire Department are also on scene.

Family members have said Williams-Jaffe is a vulnerable adult who needs medications for anxiety and pain from a broken back suffered in October.

She is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 100 pounds, and has long, straight, light brown hair, family members said. She walks slowly and deliberately due to her injuries.

Williams, her brother, still encouraged Park Island area residents to search their properties for signs of Williams-Jaffe.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (701) 235-4493.