Newark (Del.) Police Department
Linda Hegg, 56, had been missing since September.
A mystery woman who walked into a downtown Toronto shelter three months ago not knowing who she was has been identified as an American who disappeared from her apartment in Delaware, police said Tuesday.
Toronto police said DNA was used to positively identify the woman as Linda Hegg, 56, who was reported missing from Newark, Del.
She has been returned to Delaware and is resting comfortably at a hospital in Newark, with family at her side, Toronto police said.
It's still not known exactly when Hegg left her residence in Newark or what she did before she arrived at the shelter, Canadian Press reported.
Hegg can’t answer those questions because she apparently has amnesia, said Toronto police Detective Roger Caracciolo, Canadian Press reported.
Hegg asked the staff at her Delaware facility where she had been. "They told her, 'Well, you know, Linda, you were in Canada,' and she paused and she said, 'I like Canada. I'd like to visit there again,'" Caracciolo said, according to Canadian Press. "I don't think she knew where she was."
Police determined that the mystery woman entered Canada via bus on Sept. 3 and walked into a downtown Toronto shelter on Sept. 5. The neatly dressed woman didn’t have any identification and couldn’t tell authorities anything about her history, except that her first name was Linda. All she had on her was a tote bag filled with scraps of paper, a bottle of water, a map of Toronto bus routes and a wallet with a Canadian $20 bill, The Star reported.
The Toronto Police Service began issuing news releases Canada-wide with Hegg’s photo, hoping that someone would recognize the 5-foot-4-inch, 130-pound woman with short blond hair and blue eyes.
Unbeknownst to them, the Newark, Del., Police Department issued a press release Nov. 5 asking the public for help in locating Hegg, who the agency said suffers from an undisclosed medical condition and was missing from her unit in an apartment building run by the nonprofit National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Hegg was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996 and has had a "difficult" time since then, Caracciolo said, according to Canadian Press.
Newark police said a person in Canada contacted authorities Nov. 7 to report that the woman known there only as Linda resembled the woman reported missing in Delaware.
“The subject noticed similarities between the photo released by NPD and that released by the Toronto Police Service. NPD Detectives forwarded this information to the Toronto Police Service and assisted them in their investigation. Following an extensive investigation the Toronto Police Service used DNA to positively identify the subject as Linda Hegg,” Newark police said in a statement Tuesday.
Toronto police added: “When officers spoke to Linda and told her that they knew who she was, she smiled and her eyes lit up. It was the first time in two months investigators had seen Linda smile.”
Canadian social service workers took her back home on Friday – “just in time for Christmas,” Toronto police noted.
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