KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller released new information Wednesday morning in the disappearance of Teleka Patrick, describing instances of her unusual behavior and setting the record straight about her connection to a well-known gospel singer.
The sheriff also discussed the obstacles his department had faced in investigating her disappearance, including the fact that Patrick left her phone at work before she went missing, was relatively new to the Kalamazoo area and didn’t have an established social circle, and her bank and social media accounts showed no recent activity.
Patrick was last seen on Dec. 5 after entering the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.
While she didn’t outright ask to rent a room, she acted as though she wanted to, Fuller said. A hotel employee brought her back to the Borgess Hospital parking lot in a service van, where her car was presumably parked.
Fuller said that when she got out of the van, she told the driver she was sorry and couldn’t go back to him – a comment that the driver found odd, since the two were not in a relationship.
The driver then watched Patrick get into a vehicle, which was believed to be Patrick’s Lexus, and drive away.
That was the last time anyone reportedly saw Patrick, Fuller said.
Around 10 p.m., police received a report of a person driving erratically on I-94 in Indiana, with the driver speeding up to 85 miles per hour and then slowing down again along the median and passing vehicles, Fuller said.
The vehicle, whose sole occupant was the driver, then went off the road in the Porter area, about 40 feet from the highway, Fuller said.
Police would later search the area where the car – a Lexus – was found, after Patrick was reported missing by her employer. Bloodhounds were able to trace the driver’s trail back to the highway, Fuller said, but that’s where it stopped.
Investigators say they believe Patrick was driving the Lexus because witnesses reported seeing her and her wallet and ID were found in the car.
Fuller said his department believes Patrick left Kalamazoo on her own free will, and was headed to Chicago to see a family member. It was what happened to her in the meantime that was still unclear.
Patrick had exhibited delusional behavior in the past, Fuller said, and would sometimes leave urgently and go missing for a short period of time, checking into a hotel or motel.
That behavior was consistent with her attempt to get a hotel room at the Radisson and the erratic driving on I-94, according to Fuller.
Fuller also addressed Patrick’s connection to gospel singer Marvin Sapp, who resides in the Grand Rapids area with his children.
He said his department was aware of the personal protection order that Sapp had filed against Patrick, but did not get into details of the PPO.
Fuller did say that Sapp was in no way connected to Patrick’s disappearance and had been “thoroughly cooperative” and had no choice but to seek the PPO in September 2013.
“He’s nothing more than an innocent victim of a stalking,” Fuller said.
He then continued to say that Sapp had either never met Patrick or did not realize that he had ever met her.
Another missing piece of the puzzle was a comment that Patrick made when applying to Western Michigan University’s School of Medicine.
Fuller said that when Patrick interviewed for her position, she told her interviewer that she wanted to move to Kalamazoo to be closer to her fiancé.
Investigators said they did not know to whom Patrick was referring in that instance.
When asked if the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office had an opinion on Patrick’s welfare, Fuller would only say that the they were constantly in hope that if anyone knew where Patrick was, they would contact the sheriff’s office so her family could find peace.
Fuller said that Patrick’s case would remain open and Indiana State Police, the FBI an the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office would continue their investigation into her disappearance.
Patrick’s family released this statement Wednesday:
“Our family is eternally grateful for the efforts of the Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Department in the search for Teleka, but after 7 weeks, we still have no answers. We are past the point of desperation. We are running on fumes and running out of time. Like everyone, we have drowned in the speculation of where she could be and who might have her. We have fished for clues on twitter, spoken to hoards of friends and associates, hung up signs on cold metal posts, and every step of the way we’ve prayed like we’ve never prayed before.
“But, the cold reality sets in more and more each day: we can’t do it alone and we need to get more than lucky. Every morning we get out of bed knowing that if we give anything less than 100 percent we risk missing the clue, the call, the lead, or the eyes that will break the case wide open. Every morning we face the fear that if we don’t give our all, we may never know what happened. We miss Teleka, and we desperately need help.
“We thank and encourage the hoards of online support and aid that we have received. Please don’t give up. Without your help this case may have died. The Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Department has reached out to the public and asked for your help with tips and/or leads. If anyone knows anything, or has seen anything, please contact the police at 269-383-8448 or www.kalamazoosilentobserver.com. We have managed to raise a $20,000 reward for any information leading to finding Teleka.
“Teleka has been gone for far too long. We don’t know what or how to feel. Yet, we remain hopeful. There are people who expect us to give up, but we don’t know how to do that. We only know how to fight and believe. Our faith is strong. She will come home again. We need her.
“-Mattahais, Irene, Matthias, and Tenesha Patrick”