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Wednesday, July 17, 2024


A Missing Turtle, a $2,000 Reward, and a Search That Goes On

A Missing Turtle, a $2,000 Reward, and a Search That Goes On

By Caroline King

Rider, a yellow-bellied slider, has been the source of heartache since her disappearance in September.
Bill Madle
Rider, a yellow-bellied slider, has been the source of heartache since her disappearance in September.

ED. NOTE: Caroline King is an editorial intern at the Cape May County Herald.

DEL HAVEN – When Bill Madle first saw Rider, a yellow-bellied slider that his son happened to bring home, she was the size of a quarter.

In the 10 years that followed, Madle and Rider – and Rider’s sister turtle, Flo, who’d arrived with her – developed a strong connection. He’d often bring them to the beach in Del Haven to let them experience the outdoors and get a little sun.

But one afternoon this past September during such a trip, Rider disappeared from the beach. Madle, a Middle Township resident, has been looking for her ever since, and is offering a $2,000 reward in hopes of finding her.

On the day Rider was lost Madle said he walked away from his turtles, “maybe 100 feet away, just to quickly grab some water.”

When he returned, Rider was nowhere to be found.

“She was gone, no tracks,” he said.

Madle said there was no sign of any predators in the area, like a hawk or a dog. Before Rider went missing, she was digging to lay eggs in the Del Haven dunes.

Rider and her sister, Flo, in better times. Photo Credit: Bill Madle

He brought them to the beach in Del Haven because that is where his grandparents retired after spending most of their lives in Philadelphia. He appreciates the sentimental feeling he gets when he brings his pets to the area, he said.

Madle searched the nearby dunes, beaches, brush and forested areas extensively. He said that he is deeply familiar with this land, spending every day in the back creeks of Middle Township. His favorite spot is behind Eldridge Avenue.

He bought a small, used dinghy and two machetes to make his way through the terrain, which he describes as “thornbush galore, like a real jungle.”

Months later, with no result, Madle has a theory: A middle-aged man with dark hair he had seen on the beach that day may have picked Rider up without realizing she was a pet. Madle believes he saw the man holding her and walking off, but he was too far back to see clearly.

He has placed several ads in the Herald hoping to get any information on Rider’s whereabouts and asks people to call him at 609-846-3659 if they know anything.

Contact the author, Caroline King, at

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