After two days of extensive searching, authorities have failed to locate an 87-year-old man with dementia who went missing Monday night from his home in the Fairhaven area of south Bellingham, and a reward is being offered for information leading to the “kind, gentle” man’s safe return.
Liberato “Bob” Trotta was last seen at his home about 10 p.m. Monday. He is described as white, about 5-foot-5 and 155 pounds. He’s balding with white hair on the back and sides of his head, and a short full beard. He was believed to be on foot, wearing a black raincoat, long sleeve green shirt and dark brown pants.
Friends and family are fearing for Trotta’s safety, especially after two nights possibly outside, said friend and neighbor Greg Doudna. Temperatures dropped to 37 degrees with light rain early Tuesday and reached 32 degrees under mostly cloudy skies early Wednesday, according to weather records.
Trotta had not been found as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
Trotta’s wife, Christine Roberts, said she and other friends and family are clinging to hopes that Trotta is with a good Samaritan who assumes he is homeless and is caring for him. She hopes he hasn’t been the victim of a crime.
“I’m getting a lot of support, but there’ve been no tips and no sign of him,” Roberts said Wednesday. “He’s a well-educated man, but he cannot verbalize that now.”
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to Trotta’s safe return, according to police.
Doudna fears Trotta may not be able to respond to searchers who call out.
Meanwhile, Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley said detectives and uniformed officers have been actively looking for Trotta, and trained search-and-rescue personnel with dogs combed the area where he vanished on both Monday and Tuesday nights. No clues were found, police said.
“The dogs showed some interest, but nothing was found in the areas of interest,” Beckley said in an email Wednesday morning. “The dogs could be hitting on old scent as Mr. Trotta would frequently walk the area with his wife.”
Because of his medical condition, Trotta may not be able to respond verbally, police tweeted Tuesday. A missing person report on BPD’s daily activity log from 11:36 p.m. Monday lists an address on the 400 block of Chuckanut Drive North, south of Fairhaven Park.
“Detectives canvassed the south area with fliers of Mr. Trotta yesterday (Tuesday). BPD bike officers rode the trails and other areas, but we were not able to find Mr. Trotta. We ask that folks continue to be watchful and call with any possible information,” Beckley said.
Beckley said family and friends are continuing to search. Anyone with information regarding Trotta should call 911, she emphasized. Tips also can be phoned in, 360-778-8767.
Doudna said Trotta is well-known in the Fairhaven shopping district from his work as a window washer over the past decade. Many businesses have posted fliers with Trotta’s photo, and friends and family members hope that a driver who may have given him a lift will contact police.
“He was very active; he folk danced,” Doudna said. “As recently as four to five years ago, he was jogging. He was active. He was kind, gentle. Good sense of humor.”
As Trotta’s disease progressed, he became less communicative and likely won’t speak with anyone he encounters, Doudna said, adding that Trotta and his wife were avid mushroomers and members of the Northwest Mushroomers Association.