Please be careful. Please call 911 when you see/hear/sense anything that tells you “something isn’t right” because you could be preventing or stopping a crime.

My cousin (a Chinese woman in her thirties, mentally disabled) lives with her family in the outer Sunset area in San Francisco, CA.  She has never left the house by herself.

Between 11:30pm and midnight Thursday night, July 22, 2010, she had gone to her bedroom. Around midnight, a family member realized that she wasn’t in her room. She was nowhere inside the house. The front door was left opened.  The SF police was called.

My cousin was wearing her slippers and a fleece jacket. She was recovering from surgery.  How far could she have walked in her condition?

My cousin’s brother drove all over the neighborhood for 5 hours.

In the morning, my cousin’s sister called me.  I raced to San Francisco.  Our plan of action was to make hundreds of copies of the Missing Person flyer (with a photo of my cousin; my uncle had added Chinese words “Please help us find our daughter”)  and we would fan out and ask neighbors if they saw anyone walking late last night.

My cousin is now home, safe.  My cousin (who has never ridden public transportation by herself) was reported to be riding on a AC Transit bus.  The bus driver had noticed her riding for a couple of hours, back and forth; he remembered seeing her board at Downtown Berkeley; he called AC Transit Police; Alameda County Sheriff’s Department responded). However Alameda County had no record of her as a “missing person.”

How did she get there?  According to my cousin’s report to her brother approximately 24 hours later:

She had walked only a couple of blocks (remember–this is outer Sunset district in San Francisco) when a man in a car asked if she needed help.  She said “Yes.”  My cousin has the mental capacity of a child.  Instead of helping her by calling the police, the man took her to his home in the East Bay and sexually assaulted her and kept her there until morning when he took her to BART (Contra Costa County), bought her a ticket and told her to go home.

After hearing this from my cousin, my cousin’s brother called the police again. The police took my cousin to SF General Hospital for physical examination and interview.

This case is complicated – my cousin might have gotten into the man’s vehicle in San Francisco County; the BART ticket originated in Contra Costa County; she was found in Alameda County. Three counties.  Who’s case is it?  That BART ticket is a key evidence.

The main message in this post is this:

Family members didn’t hear my cousin leave her room, walk down the stairs, or open the front door. No one thought she would ever leave the house by herself. Friday night we asked the police how we could make the house safer (probably the same concern that families of Alzheimer’s patients have).  One tip:  use an alarm system so that other people in the house would be alerted when the alarm is tripped. Be safe, everyone. Talk to public safety representatives in your neighborhoods.

I thank our angels and the kind people who helped find our cousin.

Here’s the website for the Taraval Police district of San Francisco Click on Community Updates to get a list of police stations that offer newsletters which inform residents of incidents occurring in their districts.

List of Stations in SF:

Central Station
Southern Station
Bayview Station
Mission Station
Northern Station
Park Station
Richmond Station
Ingleside Station
Taraval Station
Tenderloin Station

San Francisco Police Department Missing Persons

Contact the police department in your city and ask to receive Community Updates.

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2 Responses to “Call 911 When You See/Hear/Sense Anything That Tells You “something isn’t right””

  • Judie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin’s horrific experience. I’m a big believer in alarm systems, so that’s good advice. Thank goodness she’s back home safely.

  • I am also sorrowful and horrified, as we all should be—to galvanize action—to read this story, and to know what happened to your cousin, Teresa. You have done the right thing and the brave thing in blogging about this. You point out much of great importantance for everyone to know, for everyone to do. Your connection between disabled and Alzheimer’s is also useful and thought provoking. I am happy your cousin survived. I am glad she was found. I am now going to continue reading your other posts on this most important topic. Thank you for your due diligence.

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