ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A 19-year-old woman who went missing in Jefferson County after she had been sleepwalking was found safe about nine miles away from her home. She was only wearing socks the entire time.
Taylor Gammel disappeared near 56th Place and Fig Way in Arvada early Tuesday morning. Her father said he noticed her missing at approximately 6 a.m. but that her car was still parked at the house.
“She had walked away from the house before and it was very concerning,” said Jefferson County Sheriff spokesman Mark Techmeyer.
Police from Arvada, deputies from Jefferson County and a bloodhound all assisted in the search for Taylor.
Police said about 8:15 a.m. a person who had watched news reports about her disappearance called officers and said Taylor was seen on a bus that left from 58th and Ward.
The bloodhound had tracked her scent to a bus stop at 58th and Ward but then lost it there.
“The bloodhound tracked her to a 7-Eleven which is directly next door to the bus stop,” Techmeyer said.
RTD IS currently investigating this case as well, and says most buses are outfitted with surveillance. At this point they can’t confirm that she boarded a city bus.
“We think there’s a distinct possibility she got on that bus,” Techmeyer said.
A short time later, Taylor’s uncle called police and said she was safe and had turned up at his home in Westminster on 96th Place, about nine miles away from her home in Arvada.
“She’s safe, she’s sound, she was found at a relative’s house, the mystery is how did she get there,” said Techmeyer.
Taylor’s family is relieved that she was found and is home. She was only wearing socks on her feet and did not have her phone or identification with her.
Her father told CBS4 that Arvada police “were awesome” in how they handled the situation. He also said that she woke up at 104th and Church Ranch Road near the Westminster Promenade off Highway 36 and walked to her uncle’s home.
She was taken home and was questioned by police on Tuesday morning but detectives do not believe the situation is suspicious.
“The person is unaware of what’s going on, still technically sleeping,” Dr. Sheila Tsai with the National Jewish Health Sleep Center said.
Tsai says sleepwalking affects up to 5 percent of adults.
“There are people who will experience sleepwalking episodes on a daily, weekly basis,” she said.
She says most sleepwalkers will eat or move around their home, but in very rare cases are known to do more extreme things.
“You’re still technically asleep but you still can do some behaviors and some complicated things.”
Tsai added that the vast majority of sleepwalking episodes last only minutes, and it would be highly unusual to successfully do something like board a bus.
“To communicate with someone, to take out the cash and pay for something, that would be more complicated.”