A 62-year-old woman with dementia, who disappeared for 10 days, survived in part off a diet of creek water and possibly, minnows.
On Sept.17, Linda Field of Porter, Texas, disappeared from the home she shares with her daughter, Laura Bereta, after stealing her daughter’s car before it was time to pick up her grandson from school. “She wanted to go for a little joyride,” Bereta, 35, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
While warming up the car, Bereta dashed inside the house, leaving Field sitting on the front porch. “Mom didn’t want to come to school and she is allowed to stay home alone for short periods of time,” says Bereta. However, while her daughter was in the house, Field snuck into the red 1999 Ford Explorer and drove off.
Bereta called her mother’s boyfriend and her aunt, who live in nearby Cleveland and New Caney. Then she contacted the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe, reporting that Field was missing and has dementia. While a friend picked up her son, Bereta waited at home. Meanwhile, the police searched the neighborhood and the Porter community. At 10 p.m., Field still hadn’t resurfaced, so Bereta filed a missing person’s report.
Eventually, without any leads to her mother’s whereabouts, Bereta initiated a silver alert, a notification issued by The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) for missing people with medical conditions. In June, Field was diagnosed with dementia and Bereta quit her job as custodian of a school district to care for her mom full-time.
“I was freaking out,” Bereta tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There was no telling where she could have gone — a few days earlier, she talked about visiting Montana, which I didn’t take seriously.” Comforted by the fact that her car had less than a tank of gas and her mother had no money, Bereta didn’t believe her mother could travel far.
During the first few nights of her mother’s disappearance, Bereta couldn’t sleep, checking social media feeds for updates and watching her driveway. The nights she could manage sleep, she tossed and turned. “It drove me nuts,” she says. “I finally put my phone down because I was so stressed out.”
Field could have visited the spot where her ex-husband’s ashes were sprinkled, but Bereta couldn’t recall the location. And a friend swore she spotted the woman at a local Dollar Tree. Hopeful, Bereta organized a search party near the store, but she would soon call it off. On Sept. 27, the police announced that Field had been found, approximately one hour away from Porter.
A press release sent to Yahoo Lifestyle from Lieutenant Scott Spencer stated, “Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is happy to announce that the missing adult Linda Field, who went missing from her home in Porter, Texas on September 17, 2019, has been found. On the afternoon of September 27, 10 days after Linda went missing, her vehicle was observed by a citizen in a wooded area near the end of Donahoe Road in Cold Spring Texas. Deputies from San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office along with canine handlers from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Allegiance Mobile Health Services staff searched the area for two hours. Linda was found alive in a creek bed approximately 200-300 yards from the nearest residence. Linda was transported to the Livingston Hospital due to dehydration and fatigue, but we are thankful she was found safe.”
Field told ABC 13, “I knew I was going to be found. It was God’s time.”
Bereta’s car was found with a broken bumper and side mirror, and Field was scratched up with bug bites, but otherwise healthy. However, details of her disappearance are scarce. “She has medical issues, and was severely dehydrated and weak when we found her,” Spencer tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We are just thankful that we found her, she is safe, and has been reunited with family.”
When asked by Yahoo Lifestyle about Field’s survival tactics, Spencer says, “I believe she told deputies she ate minnows and drank creek water.” However, according to Bereta, her mother claims that she only ingested the water, not minnows.
“My mother never explained what she did all day,” Bereta tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Only that, ‘It was a journey for God.’”
Since she was found, Field has been nervous to go outside and worried about being alone. And Bereta says she will stick by her mother’s side. But the extent of her mother’s disappearance will remain a mystery. “I don’t think we’ll ever know the whole truth.”
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