PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, Va. -- Aletha Gee Walton's friends and family expressed gratitude Monday after their loved one, missing for more than a week, was found alive in the woods near her Keysville, Virginia home.
Walton, 69, is living with the early stages of dementia, they said.
"I was so glad it was a happy ending," Walton's niece Deidra Knight said. "At first, I didn't know what to think, I was thinking of the worst. But when they said she was okay, I was so thankful, so thankful."
Walton was last seen by a family member on Sunday, May 15, Prince Edward County Sheriff Tony Epps said. She was reported missing last Tuesday.
After days of searching, Walton was found alive about 0.8 of a mile from her home in a densely wooded pine forest with a thick underbrush just after 10:50 a.m. Monday.
"Thank Jesus. It was a big blessing, it really was," friend Rita Allen said.
Gone from her home for more than a week in extreme heat and stormy weather, her family said she was sitting on a stump and singing Amazing Grace when she was discovered.
"Amazing Grace. God was with her the whole time," Walton's sister Sandra Knight said. "We just broke down and cried, all of us. We didn't know what to think. We thought somebody had kidnapped her or whatever. We didn't know what had happened."
Walton was taken to Centra Southside Community Hospital for evaluation.
Friends and family called Walton's safe return a miracle.
"So everybody can take a deep breath and thank God, he's good all the time," Allen said.
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