Aug. 31—HIGH POINT — Amid their grief, the family of 81-year-old Heddie Dawkins wants to extend their heartfelt thanks to the community.
The family will hold a vigil to honor Dawkins at Gethsemane Baptist Church tonight at 6:30 p.m. The church is at 401 Wise Ave., High Point.
The search for Dawkins ended Tuesday night when the missing woman's body was found about a mile from her home in a wooded area in the 2300 block of Hickswood Road. Earlier Tuesday, several hundred volunteers from across the city and region fanned out across Dawkins' neighborhood to search for her.
Even before the search and distribution of fliers about the disappearance, the community rallied behind the family. Dawkins' daughter, Rhona Neal, told The High Point Enterprise that the community's response has exceeded anything the family could have imagined.
"I don't think we could have gotten through it without them," Neal said prior to the vigil.
Dawkins, who had dementia, had been missing since she left her home on Blockhouse Road about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 24 after apparently locking herself out. Her disappearance was the subject of a Silver Alert.
The High Point Police Department and other area law enforcement and emergency response agencies conducted an extensive search in a 3-mile radius of Dawkins' house.
Police said Tuesday night that Dawkins' death isn't suspected to be foul play. The search for Dawkins involved about 100 law enforcement officers and emergency workers, search dogs, a N.C. State Highway Patrol helicopter, drones, all-terrain vehicles, kayaks and boats.
Dawkins served as an educator in Guilford County Schools. Her career as a counselor at High Point Central High School and Welborn Middle School stretched from 1991 to her retirement in 2007.
Neal told The Enterprise that the family thanks the police, emergency crews, volunteers and the media for doing everything they could to locate Dawkins.
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