Saturday, February 11, 2012

After 18 Years, Missing Woman Calls Cops

Wanna get away?
by Robert A. Waters

The headline read: "Detectives don’t believe mother’s disappearance in ’94 was voluntary."

Judith Bello-Medina disappeared from Stanwood, Washington on December 13, 1993 (the 1994 date on the cold case playing card and the headline is incorrect). Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Judith was married and had a three-year-old son. She dropped him off at day-care early that morning, then drove to her job at National Food Corporation in Sylvana. At 9:30, she abruptly left her place of employment and vanished. Her car was located in front of the Stanwood Post Office, but Bello was nowhere to be seen.

On the tenth anniversary of her disappearance, Daniel Bello, her brother, said: "She never called. She never wrote. It's been a long time." Friends and relatives, who said she would never walk off and leave her son, suspected foul play.

Bello's son moved away with his father, and the family lost contact with him until he called an uncle several years later.

In 2011, detective Kelly Willoth, hoping to warm up the cold case, told reporters she planned to track down Bello’s husband and question him again. Three years earlier, the missing woman had been featured as the eight of hearts on the Snohomish County Cold Case Playing Cards. These cards were distributed to inmates in local jails and state prisons offering a reward for productive leads on unsolved cases. The cards were also published on the sheriff’s department’s webpage.

On December 1, 2011, a new headline rocked the community: "Woman featured on cold case cards calls detectives, ends 18-year search for her."

Bello called Willoth to report that she is alive and well. She left her old life behind because of marital problems, she said. She now lives in California and has three children. Bello informed detectives that she didn’t even know she was listed as a “missing person” until she looked up her name online.

Snohomish County Chief Kevin Prentiss told reporters that “there are a lot of reasons why people go missing, and not all of them are bad. Sometimes people just don't want to be found.”

Reminds me of the old Southwest Airline commercial. "Wanna get away?"

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