Mysterious Disappearance of Arizona Woman With Down Syndrome
On March 21, 2019, Sherry Galloway, 66, got out of the shower and, while sitting on her bed, she “realized I didn’t hear Sarah,” she said. She ran to the door where Sarah had been sitting on the porch and looked down the road that leads away from the residence Galloway shares with her daughter in the community of Picture Rocks, outside of Tucson, Ariz. “My first thought was that she had just walked further down the road than she was allowed,” says Galloway. “I got in the car and drove down the road. No Sarah. I was freaking out. Within about 10 minutes, we’d called 911.”
Sarah, 38, has Down syndrome. She is a “happy go lucky” young woman who loves to talk about daily events that occurred at her daytime program for adults with disabilities and has pretend conversations with her friends.
Sarah functions at the level of an 8-year-old child. At age 8, Sarah joined the Galloway family, along with five other siblings, and they officially adopted Sarah at age 12.
The day Sarah vanished, police and volunteers canvassed the area on foot, by search vehicle, and used K-9, but they could not find a trace of Sarah. Police even partnered with the Department of Homeland Security, conducting searches by helicopter.
“The police did do their dog search and they say they lost the scent right at the end of the driveway,” said Galloway. “I do believe she was picked up that morning. I don’t know by who, and I can’t figure out why.”
“She’s a vulnerable adult and we’re doing everything we can to locate her,” said spokesman Deputy Daniel Jelineo of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “We’re looking to the public to supply any tips they have.”
According to Galloway, Sarah had been agitated prior to her disappearance. “It was really weird,” she said. “She was fantasizing about someone—an acquaintance—being her husband, telling me that this guy was going to do bad things to me. We didn’t know where that was coming from or what to think,” Galloway added.
“She’s super friendly,” Galloway told People Magazine. “No one is a stranger to her. But she needs supervision to care for herself. She cannot operate a cell phone.”
Investigating Sarah Galloway's Disappearance
According to Galloway, Sarah attends a day program for people with disabilities which she enjoys. She loves to help around the house and loves to color princesses in coloring books like Frozen. She also loves to role play movie and TV characters with her mother.
“I miss her come in and kiss me in the morning," said Galloway who has spent months waiting for her daughter. “I miss having her kiss me at night before she went to bed.”
Galloway has spent months replaying the delusions her daughter was experiencing right before she disappeared.
“But she changed. She changed dramatically. She wouldn’t listen to anything I’d say; she wouldn’t get up and go anywhere with me,” Galloway told KGUN 9 TV. “She was running outside doing strange things, throwing rocks at my windows, saying she was going to break my trailer, going up to the car that her and her boyfriend, husband, were going to steal and when you ask her who her husband is, she would name him and I don’t think I’m allowed to name him on camera so, I just keep my thoughts to myself because he had an alibi.”
In the meantime, Pima County Sheriff’s Department says they continue to investigate any and all leads related to Sarah’s disappearance.
Thomas Lauth is a private investigator from Lauth Investigations International based in Indianapolis, Ind. Lauth and has worked missing adult cases for over 25 years and very familiar with the setbacks police may be experiencing with Sarah’s case. “This case is particularly concerning because we are dealing with an individual who has diminished mental capacity, who is also very friendly,” says Lauth. “We also face challenges because the media’s interest has been short-lived unlike other high-profile disappearances of other women Sarah’s age.”
Lauth is concerned the media has not covered the case providing new updates like other nationally known cases of young women in the country. “We need information from the public and that only happens when there is consistent coverage of a case in the public eye,” said Lauth. “Sadly, it is far too common that women with disabilities get less attention than the young, beautiful college student.”
Galloway says she knows her daughter is out there somewhere, and she won’t give up until she is found. “I will find peace, yes, when that kid is back in my arms safe,” says Galloway. “I don’t care if it’s here on earth or if it’s in heaven. I will find peace as long as she’s with me.”
Stats & Facts
According to the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there were 87,608 active missing person cases as of May 31, 2018. That number tends not to fluctuate significantly and approximately 90,000 people is an average count of missing persons on any given day.
When law enforcement takes a missing person report the descriptive information and classification is entered into the NCIC computer database. There are six categories used in NCIC.
As of May 31, 2018, the numbers below reflect active missing person cases in each classification used by law enforcement to describe the circumstances of each missing person’s disappearance.
- 37,875 Juveniles
- 14,433 Endangered
- 8,853 Involuntary
- 5,731 Disability
- 1,024 Catastrophe
- 19,692 Other
“When an adult with disabilities goes missing, police and family members face an especially difficult time getting and maintaining public awareness of the case,” says Lauth.
While Amber Alerts are used for endangered children who are reported missing, the Silver Alert is used for seniors who go missing that may have diminished mental capacity, such as someone with Alzheimer’s. However, an alert does not exist for cases like Sarah Galloway.
“Missing adults typically receive less media attention in comparison to children and can be due to age, race, gender and even socioeconomic status,” says Lauth. “Sadly, cases that do receive a lot of media attention tend to be cases where the details of the disappearance are dramatic and sensational and the missing person is young, white, and beautiful.”
Sarah is 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 100 lbs. She has brown hair and brown eyes that are crossed. She has visible overbite and scars on her fingers. The morning she vanished she was wearing a grey sweater, a red T-shirt and black pants.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Sarah Galloway, please call Tucson Police Department at 520-88-CRIME (27463) or 520-351-4900.
Questions & Answers
Is it at all possible, that the people who adopted Sarah, know how to find her? And took her back?
Sarah's bio mother desperately contacted Lauth Investigations asking for pro bono help to find her. Also, I assume law enforcement has checked that angle thoroughly. Lauth Investigations agreed to work with her adoptive mother free of charge. I will be updating the story soon.
© 2019 Kym L Pasqualini