A San Bernardino woman who disappeared this month but returned 10 days later has issued a statement explaining why.
Sahray Barber, 22, vanished March 9 outside her apartment, which is across the street from Cal State San Bernardino. Police were already on alert looking for a man who had tried to abduct and sexually assault two women in the area in less than two weeks.
When Barber went missing, police investigated her disappearance as connected to the attacks but found no evidence to suggest there was a link. Barber reappeared unharmed 10 days later.
Police say that multiple people, among them Barber's roommates, misled detectives about the circumstances of her disappearance and could face criminal charges and a bill for overtime hours that officers worked as they looked for her.
On Thursday, Barber addressed her disappearance publicly for the first time. In a statement given to local broadcast stations, she attributed her disappearance to personal struggles and credited a good Samaritan with returning her to her family.
The statement was published by NBC Los Angeles and reads in full:
I need to start by thanking everyone.
To my family and friends, the entire San Bernardino Police Department, any and all the government officials and organizations, and everyone that prayed and assisted in finding me. Thank you. Thank you so much for all the love and support, and all the time, effort and resources you put into bringing me home. Most of all I need to thank God. I felt God's protection and guidance the whole way, and I know I wouldn't have made it unharmed through all I did without it. I ask for every ones forgiveness, most especially my wonderful family for all the worry and long nights I caused you, and all the amazing men, women, dogs and horses that searched for me through so many nights and days.
I was honestly shocked when I learned from S.B.P.D. personnel and my family all that had been done to locate me. I expected to be another missing person's case and, having not planned to return, I'd chosen not to look back or pay any mind to any searches or investigations related to my disappearance. I never could have imagined any of this, just like I had no clue what the impact of my leaving would have on so many lives.
I have always striven to do my best in school. In High School, like a lot of people, I felt the all expectations and pressures that came with achieving and maintaining a high GPA. I graduated High School with Honors. Since I started my Associates in Graphic Design, I've had my share of easy and tough classes, and good and bad quarters, some of which I felt I barely made it through. I'd received some scary low grades in one quarter but I felt good going into my final quarter.
Really good actually, I felt I had a great recipe for a successful conclusion to my first leg of college.
Unfortunately, I tried to keep myself standing tall as I was hit by the various stresses, pressures, class deadlines, and life challenges I was inexperienced in such as: losing my vehicle in a traffic accident and having to rely on friends and family for transportation, my computer equipment and software needed to complete my assignments becoming inoperable and having a hard time keeping up with my class work as a result, and through all of this the ever looming portfolio show and end of my job.
By not reaching out to family or even school officials, I created a recipe for disaster. I was supposed to be graduating, but instead of having my perfect quarter, things fell apart. I was scared and it felt like the whole world was pressing down on me. Things got so bad that I didn't know what to say or HOW to ask for help. I had dug a hole so deep, that I felt entirely hopeless. That Monday morning (March 9, 2015) when I reached the gate, I felt I needed to lighten my load. I didn't intend on ever coming back or being found so I dropped my stuff over the wall and walked away with just a bit of cash. Eventually public transportation and God's guidance took me to Los Angeles.
During the 10 days I was gone, God brought me in contact with many people in Los Angeles. I could feel his guidance and protection through them. Some of them were like angels, helping me stay alive, or teaching me the things God had brought me there to learn. To everyone I met in L.A. who helped me in even the smallest way whether you know it or not, I would like to thank you all very much as well.
The majority of my time in L.A. was spent in two different hospitals under a fictitious name. On the day I was released from the second hospital, I was blessed by making the acquaintance of another angel. She had no idea who I was, she just realized I wasn't where I belonged and wanted to help me. She convinced me to open up to her and then to let her call my dad. She was like God's messenger telling me my journey was complete and it was time to return home.
In closing, I know what I did was incredibly dumb and that I am only here by the grace of God. But I am not at all ashamed of what I did. I know that I did what I had to do, and went where I needed to be. Now I know I am back where I belong and I have a new appreciation for myself and for all of the amazing people that I have in my life. I have and am getting the help and support I need as I now work on getting my life back on track
God Bless with Sincere Love and Many Thanks,
-- Sahray Barber