By SHELLEY HANSON
Wheeling police searched the Ohio River banks with police dogs this week after receiving reports that a local woman, who apparently is homeless, is missing, said Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
The woman, Sonya Shia, is often seen walking around downtown Wheeling, luggage in tow. She has long, blonde-gray hair that she often wears in braids. Downtown workers or residents may have noticed her sitting outside the Intermodal parking garage, Wheeling Heritage Port or Heritage Trail.
Downtown resident Charlie Ballouz said he started hearing rumors about the woman's disappearance Wednesday during the Waterfront Wednesdays concert at the port.
"She used to live in South Wheeling. When her husband (George Shia) died six or seven years ago, that's when they said she never went back. She was afraid to live by herself - that's why she was on the streets," Ballouz said.
Ballouz said Shia doesn't like to interact with most people, but there are a few she will talk to. Ballouz is concerned the woman may have been a victim of a crime.
Schwertfeger said Friday that because of the rumors of the woman's disappearance, he had his officers take action.
"Based on the rumors, we had K-9s search the river banks. We have not located anyone," Schwertfeger said, adding the woman's luggage also was not found.