More than a year after she disappeared from a Denny's restaurant near her parents' home in Severn, Valerie Ann Littleton has turned up alive in New Orleans, police said yesterday.
The 47-year-old woman - whose family said she suffers from bipolar disorder - apparently has been using aliases, according to Anne Arundel County police.
That closes the case, but for her family, the news brings mixed emotions. "It's encouraging to know that she's alive," her father, Kingsley Gorman, said yesterday. "But it's frustrating because we'd like to help her and we don't know how."
The FBI contacted Anne Arundel police Thursday to tell them that Littleton's fingerprints matched those of a person who had been arrested in New Orleans. Littleton's father said she had been arrested Christmas Eve on a minor nuisance charge.
Authorities are not sure where Littleton is now.
"There's no law against disappearing if you're an adult," said Lt. Joseph Jordan, county police spokesman. "But it upsets a lot of people when that happens, especially the family."
After an argument with her mother late Sept. 10, 2002, Littleton walked about a mile from her parents' home on Cuire Drive to the Denny's.
The restaurant's video surveillance tapes show Littleton entering the restaurant and leaving about 40 minutes later. The contents of her purse were found in a bathroom at the restaurant. Her parents suspected foul play and offered a $2,500 reward for information about what happened to her.
She has never contacted her parents or sister, and it does not appear that she contacted her ex-husband or their two teen-age daughters in Kansas City, Mo.