The neighborhood around Link Elementary School in New City became the focus of a search Tuesday for a New City woman who works at the school who has been missing since leaving her Ann Street home at 7 a.m.
After police spent all day looking for Denise Gruffi, 57, of 15 Ann St., using police dogs and the Rockland County emergency helicopter, volunteer firefighters from New City, Congers and West Nyack fire departments joined the search along with the mounted unit of the Rockland County Sheriff's Department. A canine unit from Westchester County also joined the search.
Gruffi is a teaching assistant at Link Elementary but never made it to work on Tuesday. Police said her husband found a note that led him to believe Gruffi might hurt herself. She also left behind assorted personal items that she would normally take with her.
Gruffi is 5-foot-6, about 165 pounds with blue eyes and reddish brown hair. Police did not have a description of the clothing she was wearing today. If you have seen her or know where she might be, call Clarkstown police at 845-639-5800.
Gruffi left home on foot and was not believed to be using a car, however, police are looking for a white 1995 Honda Civic owned by a family member that Gruffi may be using. Clarkstown police also received assistance from Haverstraw police, who searched the cemetery in Haverstraw where Gruffi's parents are buried, police said.
Clarkstown Sgt. Harry Baumann said investigators are expected to soon resume the search for Gruffi this morning.
As police were looking for Gruffi, Baumann said they also conducted a successful search for a pregnant woman who was reported missing from a West Nyack motel. Baumann said the woman called her boyfriend from the Nyack Motor Lodge and told him he would "never see her again."
Baumann said the woman was located and found to be safe in New City after about 90 minutes, using her cell phone as a way of tracking her.
The search for Gruffi has sparked an outpouring of support for her and her family. Here's a look at some of the comments about her that were posted on Patch:
Mrs. Gruffi is a wonderful person and an asset to Link. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family for a safe return.
The Zapata Family has the Gruffi family in their prayers. We pray and We hope that she is found soon and that she returns home safely. She is an amazing person!
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gruffi family. We hope that she is found quickly and safely!
Our family and the entire Link family are praying for the safe return of Mrs. Gruffi.
Carolyn Pisetzner (Joseph's mom 2nd grade)
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. My son had her a few years ago & he adored her. She always had a smile on her face & was so caring to the students. We hope she has a safe return.
The Shankar family is keeping she and her husband in their prayers. We also pray for her to return safely to her Link family.
I have known Denise for over 25 years. I pray she is safe and returns home soon. I am also praying for her whole family!
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gruffi family.
Mrs. Gruffi is a great asset to the LINK family.
We hope that she is found quickly and safely!
Richard Williams, Sonoma,Ca....I know Denise and the Gruffi family from Villanova where my daughter KIm and Colleen became such good friends....my thoughts and prayers go out to Colleen and Scott and the entire Gruffi family for Denise's safe return
Whenever I bump into Denise, she has a smile on her face, a kind word to say, and and a good story to share. How can anyone not love her? We will continue to pray for Denise and her family until she arrives safely home.
Denise - Jennifer just called me to tell me you are missing, naturally very upset. If you are reading any of the posts from the people who care about you & love you (of which there are so many), please come home. I don't know what pain you may be suffering, but one thing I do know is that leaving isn't the answer. I know how much you love your family - please come back to them. I am here if you need me - you know I'll understand.
The Winchester family has Mrs. Gruffi in our thoughts and prayers. She has been a teaching assistant for my son's classes for the past 3 years and he always has such nice things to say about her. She seems like a very kind woman and I hope that she is okay and comes home safely.