When a woman showed up at a homeless shelter in Toronto with no identification and no memory of who she was, officials say they began a search for anyone with clues about where she came from that lasted three months.
Finally, a breakthrough came when someone recognized the woman in a news bulletin and contacted local police in Newark, Delaware. Eventually, it was determined that the mystery woman was 56-year old Linda Hegg, and though she’s been reunited with her family, she still has no clue how she got to Toronto or what she went through between September and early December.
Hegg appeared to be a homeless person with a possible diagnosis of schizophrenia, but when investigators dug up information on her, they found she was actually a successful, well-traveled former Navy officer who had a degree in linguistics.
“When I told her who she was, she actually clapped her hands and said, ‘Yay, time to go home,’ ” Toronto detective Roger Caracciolo said. “[And yet] she doesn’t know where home is.”
Hegg’s parents, who live in Indianapolis, say Hegg was changed after a difficult experience involving a pregnancy. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996 but managed to stay functional on medication; however, family members say she had recently stopped taking it, and were frantic when she disappeared in September.
“She was different when she came out of the service,” said Hegg’s mother, Martha Wilson, in a phone interview from her home in Indianapolis, Ind. “She couldn’t seem to find a job and keep it.”
For now, authorities believe Hegg suffered from something called “fugue amnesia” which was brought on by a mixture of a traumatic event, lack of medication, and the underlying condition she already suffered from.
“It’s been a relief to know how many good people there are out there who take care of someone who needs help,” said Wison. “I’m very grateful.”
Image: Toronto Star