Woman with amnesia and cancer identified; family found

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A woman with amnesia found wandering in a Carlsbad neighborhood and who turned to social media to find her family apparently has been identified.

The story of the amnesiac woman, who went by Sam, went viral. Soon enough, people around the world were looking for her. They were hoping to reconnect the woman and her family before her ovarian cancer worsened.

On Wednesday, KNSD-TV Channel 7 reported that the woman’s nephew had identified her as Ashley Menatta, a single woman who was born in Pennsylvania and once lived in Arizona before making her way to San Diego County.


She apparently has sisters in Colorado and Maryland.

Debbie Rough, a friend and nurse at the hospital where Menatta received cancer treatment, confirmed her identity.

“Ashley was always kind and sweet, it was easy to take care of her … it has been a privilege of taking care of her and that turned into a beautiful and lasting friendship,” she wrote on Facebook.

But FBI officials said they could not confirm Menatta’s identity.

“The FBI is not identifying this individual as by the name of Ashley,” Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said in San Diego. “This is something she is self-identifying herself as based on conversations she had with people that represent themselves as family members.”

Efforts to find her family had been in full swing, according to a Facebook page created for her.

Few details were known about the woman because her memories were vague.

Carlsbad police and firefighters found the woman Feb. 1, walking around a neighborhood when they responded to a report that she needed medical assistance.

She was taken to a hospital, where doctors discovered she was suffering from retro amnesia -- a symptom brought on by a growing tumor in an ovary. Doctors told the woman the chances of surviving were grim.


The woman spent the next several months with doctors, nurses, patients and clergy members as she tried to remember her past.

The FBI, meanwhile, distributed the woman’s photo to numerous police agencies, including Interpol.

Still, the woman had no answers and no family.

“It has been a bit over a 3 weeks that i have been out of the hospital and there have been no leads by the authorities on my finding my family,” she wrote on Facebook. “My friends that I have made believe it is time to use the Internet ourselves to see if we can find my family or friends.”

She recalled living in Hawaii and swimming in a lap pool in Perth, Australia.

Those fond memories of Australia, she told KNSD-TV, stem from her frequent visits to the country. Her family told her she lost ties to them in 2013.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA.



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