A doctor behaved strangely and erratically with colleagues and others in the hours before her disappearance, southwestern Michigan authorities said Wednesday, adding that it's a complicating factor in a month-and-a-half-old case with few clues.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said during a news conference that Kalamazoo doctor Teleka Patrick told colleagues on Dec. 5 she was going to Chicago to visit a relative. But she told another colleague she needed money and a ride to a nearby hotel.
Fuller said she walked inside the hotel, looked around and appeared to want a room but never requested one. She asked for a ride to the hospital, where she was a psychiatric resident, to pick up some things. Once there, she said she would not be returning to the hotel, and the driver saw her get into a car and drive away, the sheriff said.
Police found the 30-year-old Patrick's car in a ditch hours later along Interstate 94 about 100 miles away in northern Indiana. They had received reports of a car speeding up and slowing down.
Patrick's wallet, cash and identification were in the car, but not her keys.
Law enforcement agencies in Michigan and Indiana are investigating her disappearance along with the FBI. Fuller said he cannot say whether her disappearance was voluntary or by force, because investigators lack "credible tips." He added that Patrick's behavior only complicates the investigation.
"We don't know what's going on in her mind but we know these things look erratic or difficult for us to try and interpret," Fuller told The Associated Press after the news conference. "The fact is we have a missing person we have zero information on."
Fuller and Detective Sgt. Bill Sparrow said they have uncovered a pattern of erratic and "possibly delusional" behavior by Patrick going back to before she came to Kalamazoo last July, but they declined to specify.
They also spoke about Grammy-nominated gospel singer Marvin Sapp securing a personal protection order against Patrick in September. Sapp, pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids, alleged that Patrick claimed to be his wife, contacted his teenage children and had been to his home. He said she had joined his church after moving from California.
Fuller said he believes Sapp is "an innocent victim of an apparent stalking" and has no evidence they ever met or had personal contact.
Still, Fuller said, police are "moving past" Patrick's behavioral issues and "looking for any information as to where she might be."
"If for some reason Teleka Patrick is out there, I would want her to know that all is forgiven," Fuller said. "If she's not coming forward because of all the attention that's connected to her, disregard the concern and please come in."
Patrick's parents, Mattahais and Irene Patrick, released a statement earlier this month saying that authorities advised them not to discuss the protective order because it could impede the search for their daughter. Their statement read in part, "regardless of her emotional state, we believe wholeheartedly that she has encountered some harm or danger."
Patrick was raised in New York and graduated with a medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry from Loma Linda University in California. She had been serving her medical residency at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo.