KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Teleka Patrick had much to look forward to. The new doctor was months into her Michigan hospital residency, and she had plans to visit her parents in Florida for Christmas.
Then she failed to show for work this month, and her car was found abandoned in a ditch off a highway in neighboring Indiana. She was gone, along with her purse and keys, police say.
Patrick’s disappearance is a mystery to police, who’ve scoured the area to no avail, and to relatives.
“(Missing work) is out of character where she is concerned,” her father, Matthias Patrick, told HLN’s Nancy Grace on Wednesday. “She is always deliberate about what she’s doing.”
Patrick, 33, moved to Kalamazoo just six months ago from California, where she earned a medical degree and another doctorate, her family told CNN affiliate WXMI.
She was last seen in the parking lot of the hospital where she worked, Kalamazoo’s Borgess Medical Center, on the evening of December 5, authorities say.
Later that night, an Indiana State Police trooper found her car abandoned off Interstate 94 in Porter, Indiana — about a 100-mile drive southwest of Kalamazoo.
She was supposed to be at work at 7 a.m. the next day, but she was reported missing after she didn’t arrive, her family said.
Investigators have no information pointing to foul play, but also have no conclusive evidence that she left voluntarily, Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told HLN this week.
Police: Dogs tracked scent from car back to highway
Patrick’s car ended up in a ditch about 30 to 40 feet off I-94, but didn’t crash, Indiana State Police Sgt. Rick Strong told CNN Thursday.
Investigators used dogs to track the driver.
“(The dogs) indicated that whoever was in that vehicle … tracked back to that roadway” roughly 30 feet from the car, Strong said.
The dogs sensed no trace after that.
“We have scoured, searched, and looked at everything we could possibly look at — all the exits, all the businesses, all the hotels,” Strong said. “We posted flyers, we talked to neighbors (who live near the highway). We did a full-blown on-the-ground search in the wooded area north of where the car was.”
“We looked everywhere” but have so far come up empty, he said.
Patrick’s parents told WXMI that she had just bought a plane ticket so that she could visit them in Florida at the end of the month.
“We were shocked. Disbelief,” her mother, Irene Patrick, told WXMI.
Patrick was working at Kalamazoo’s two teaching hospitals, the Western University Michigan School of Medicine said.
“This young doctor is new to our community and part of our family of medical professionals, and we’re all hoping and praying for her safe return,” school spokeswoman Laura Eller said. “We continue to work with authorities in their efforts to locate Dr. Patrick.”