Dive Teams Find Clothes Of Missing Woman In Arkansas River

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Update: A Pueblo County dive team along with a couple of swift water rescue teams will begin combing parts of the Arkansas River Tuesday. Detectives say they found some of Beth Rice's personal belongings by the river just before dark on Monday, which is less than a mile from her house.

Mid-afternoon Tuesday, search teams say they found clothing belonging to Rice in the Arkansas River. They say they have now intensified their search.

They'll be doing an extensive search of the river," said Detective Mike Delaurentis of the Florence Police Department. " We'll also have ground searchers doing an extensive search of heavily wooded areas," he said.

The last time anyone saw 49-year-old Beth Rice, was Saturday afternoon. Since then, her family has been worried, investigators have been stumped, and search crews have come up empty.

Monday, a massive search was conducted in the hopes of finding Rice alive. There has been a few leads, but no finds. More than 150 people will search the neighborhoods and surrounding areas near Rice's apartment. Search and Rescue teams from Custer, Pueblo, and El Paso counties have been dispatched.

Two airplanes conducted an aerial search of the banks of the Arkansas River, while bloodhounds and cadaver dogs followed Rice's scent through the streets and fields.

The last time her family saw her was when Rice left their home in Canon City to return to Florence. That was about 2:30 p.m., roughly 30 minutes later a store owner in Florence recalls seeing her make a purchase. At about 3:30 p.m. one of the other tenants in her apartment building says they saw her. Then, around 4 p.m, neighbors down the street from her apartment say, they saw a woman matching her description walking north along the road. The road leads to the Arkansas River, but curves before it reaches it.

No one has reported seeing Rice after that.

Sunday, after Rice failed to show up for church, her family became worried. "If she's not going to be in church she would call family or someone from church and say, hey I'm not going to be in church today for whatever reason. For her not to show up yesterday is very unusual," said Detective Delaurentis.

At 3:30 p.m. Rice's family went by her apartment and noticed her car out front. However, no one answered when they knocked on the door which was locked. After police arrived and let them into the apartment, they found all of Rice's most important items. "Her purse, car keys, cellphone, everything was in order. The apartment was in immaculate condition," says Linda Baldwin, Rice's sister.

Now, everyone is searching for something. Her family is searching for answers, while the authorities are searching for Rice herself. At this point, Detective Delaurentis says they are not ruling anything out.

Rice reportedly participated in a dating service recently and investigators are looking to see if there is a connection. Meanwhile, her sister says that Rice is a timid woman, who had very few friends.

The missing woman may be well known to residents in Florence as she worked at the Canon National Bank just a few blocks from her apartment. Some people have mentioned that she would frequently walk back and forth for lunch, or simply take walks from time to time. This however doesn't seem to match up with what her family believes.

According to her sister, Rice has a problem with her knee and hips. Rice's family was under the impression she did not frequently take strolls, or walk long distances because it would have been uncomfortable for her. Which account is more accurate may never be known, but it has left her family wondering. "We have no idea what to think, no idea," says Baldwin.

Rice is a white woman, 5’1, 180 pounds with short brown hair and green eyes. She also wears glasses. She was last seen wearing a white sweater.

Detective Delaurentis says the family is doing very well. " They're very optimistic, but they're trying to write down anything they can remember that she may have said in the days prior to her coming up missing."

The Florence Police Department is asking if anyone has seen Rice to please contact dispatch or Detective DeLaurentis at 719-784-3411.