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Help Find Pattie: Missing hiker in Japan has ties to Kansas City

Pattie Wu-Murad went missing April 10
Pattie Wu-Murad
Posted at 4:37 PM, May 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-02 18:20:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeff Murad lives in Lenexa and contacted KSHB 41 News about his sister-in-law's disappearance, asking if we could spread the word.

The family is dealing with this shocking news from more than 6,000 miles away.

Patricia (Pattie) Wu-Murad went missing in Japan, leaving the family with many more questions than answers.

Murad showed us a picture of her taken on April 9, the night before Pattie went missing. In it, Pattie is inside the guesthouse she was staying in along the trail she was hiking. Pattie is smiling.

"Looks like nothing's wrong here, does it?" Murad said. "(We) Got to get her back."

Pattie Wu-Murad
Pattie Wu-Murad had plans to hike the Kohechi route of the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan when she disappeared on April 10.

Murad said the mother of three was having the time of her life on a pilgrimage hike. But it's turned into a search-and-rescue and a nightmare for the family.

"I think this is 21 days," Murad said. "She went missing on the 10th of April."

Pattie was an experienced hiker; she'd done solo trips and hiked in multiple countries. The 11-mile scenic hike on the Kohechi route of the Kumano Kodo trail in Japan was supposed to be more peaceful than treacherous.

"She wants to go, she wants to find peace, she wants to meet people," Murad said. "She wants to make sure she sees the world and understand the world around us."

She left from the Mandokoro guesthouse to the trailhead at 7 a.m. on April 10, with the expectation of reaching the Taiyo-no-Yu guesthouse by that afternoon.

When Pattie still hadn't shown up by 8 p.m., the guesthouse owners grew worried.

"They went, 'Yeah, that's not right,' so they contacted the authorities," Murad said.

Murad says Pattie sent her daughter a text on April 10, letting her know about the next leg of her hiking trip. Her daughter sent Pattie a text on April 12 and it didn't go through.

At the time, the family figured maybe Pattie didn't have service due to where she was.

The family didn't find out Pattie was missing until April 14, when Japanese officials informed the U.S. Consulate.

"That was frustrating," Murad said.

Apparently, Japanese officials searched for Pattie for three days around the trail and didn't find anything.

The police initially told the family they didn't contact the U.S. officials sooner because they didn't know she was a U.S. citizen.

However, the family said that information was clear as day on Pattie's registration information at the guesthouse.

"It says 'USA' written right on the card," Murad said.

Pattie even noted her passport number on the registration.

After finding out Pattie was missing, her husband, Kirk, and their kids flew out to Japan to find out everything they could.

It doesn't make sense to them because Pattie was so meticulous and her trips were so thought-out.

"She was very careful about the whole thing, which is why we're not so sure she made it to the trail, because they're not finding her on that trail," Murad said. "And there's been search and rescue teams who are very good at it. We've had volunteers who are ex-military who've also been in on the search and can't find a sign of her."

Upon their arrival in Japan, Pattie's family found out she'd left her itinerary behind at the guesthouse, which they found strange.

They're not sure if she left the itinerary behind by mistake or some other reason.

The family and Japanese officials are now focusing on other nearby routes on the off-chance that Pattie decided last minute to go another route. That is also not like her, Murad said.

The picture of Pattie at the guesthouse the night before she went missing is cropped. There are two other people in the picture with her, the guesthouse owner and an Australian tourist.

Murad said the Japanese police said they've questioned both people and don't think they had anything to do with Pattie's disappearance. However, the police won't give the family any more information.

The family has gone through every avenue they can think of to spread the word.

They've created a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page.

They started a GoFundMe page to help with the search efforts.

Murad's daughter posted an informative video on Tik Tok.

Over in Japan, the family hired their own search groups, they got search dogs and helicopters, they're looking for surveillance video, trying to ping Pattie's phone and access her Google Maps, they're passing out fliers.

They've spent thousands of dollars with no plans of stopping.

"I think the last thing we want to do is have my brother go through what's left of his savings to do this on his own," Murad said. "We're going to help him, but any help we can get is going to be tremendous at this point."

Murad said the Gojo police department opened a criminal investigation because it's the next logical step.

Police in Japan told Pattie’s family there’s a chance she wanted to go missing, but the family is adamant that’s not the case. The family said Pattie was supposed to meet friends in Osaka after the hike.

The family remains hopeful Pattie will come back home safe.

"The family is just, we're beside ourselves," Murad said. "We want her back. You try not to get too emotional. It's hard, right."

Pattie is from Connecticut. Family there and in New York have reached out to local lawmakers.

Murad said they've made some headway, with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal reaching the U.S. State Department and the White House.

The KSHB 41 I-Team reached out to the Gojo police station in Japan, the U.S. Consulate, and the FBI but haven't heard back by the time this story was published on Tuesday afternoon.