Kayannette Eleaya Gabrielle is one of my “few details are available” cases on Charley. That link won’t be working for much longer, though, because I just learned that Kayannette, who disappeared in 2006, has been found alive and was reunited with her children.
She was apparently suffering from severe memory loss and couldn’t recall her identity — mental illness maybe? — and ended up living on the streets of Santa Barbara, 100 or so miles north of where she was last seen. This article explains how she was found:
Around four years ago, Gabrielle ended up in Santa Barbara and often slept outside the main library. She was known in the community as Mary Roberts.
During a stay at the Rescue Mission, Gabrielle befriended Jill Wallerstedt, the director of homeless guest services.
Wallerstedt said Gabrielle suffered from severe memory loss, possibly from a head injury and couldn’t remember her name or Social Security number. Gabrielle often talked about three children, but never mentioned that they belonged to her.
Gabrielle was cited for sleeping in public and trespassing, but those tickets brought her to the attention of the Restorative Court Program, which also seeks to rehabilitate area homeless and get them off of the streets.
Mureen Brown is a restorative police court liason for the police department and works closely with Hove.
Gabrielle’s complex case was flagged again and the woman was routed through the restorative court system, and connected with a shelter and other services. Brown continued to work tirelessly to help Gabrielle recall her past and solve her identity.
“We work with a lot of vulnerable people out on the streets. Many of them have sad stories and sad situations. We know they all come from a mom, a dad, a brother,” Brown said. “They have somebody they were once tethered to.”
On March 4, 2016, Brown secured a bed for Gabrielle at the homeless shelter PATH Santa Barbara where she stayed and received services for a year.
Two weeks ago, Gabrielle told a staff member that she remembered her name and some personal information. Brown and Hove pulled up Gabrielle’s old drivers license on the computer and searched the missing person database.
“Sure enough, she showed up immediately,” Brown said. “In the six years I’ve been doing this, this is the highlight of my entire time working with the police department. “This is a story about an entire community keeping this woman safe, taking care of her, not giving up hope and at the end of it we have a miracle. It doesn’t happen that often.
This is awesome. And it goes to show that just because a person has been missing a long time, doesn’t mean they’re dead. As my friend Annie likes to say, if you look for a body you might miss a person.