CCSO recounts discovering woman missing for 6 days

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Deputies are talking about the experience of finding Margaret Gallaway, an 80-year-old woman with dementia, alive on Sunday and then reuniting Gallaway with her husband.

Gallaway went six days without food or water in a neighbor’s garage just a few blocks from her Collier County home before she was found.

“Conditions were not good in the garage. She was not in good shape,” said Chris Goldhorn, commander for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives said Gallaway has been non-verbal for months, and when they got into the garage, they saw her lying there and asked if she was Margaret Gallaway. She looked at them and said, “Yes.”

That was the first word she had spoken in months, and the only thing she remembered after she went missing for six days.

The first and only thing Margaret Gallaway remembered when detectives found her was her name.

“It’s not something that the detective expected to hear: a response from her. When he approached, he was assessing her to aid her, and he said, ‘Are you Margaret?’ and she said, ‘Yes,” said Goldhorn.

Behind that yes, were six days of tears, turmoil and tenacious detective work.

“We use drones, helicopters, ATVs, boats, message boards, sonar, heat-sensing cameras,” said Goldhorn.

Even though the week-long search combed through the air, land and water…

“In the end, it comes down to men and women serving their public and rolling out what we took an oath to,” said Goldhorn.

In the end, it came down to a neighbor’s security camera.

“The detectives found some residents that returned from out of town on Friday but were aware of the incident remotely checking their cameras but hadn’t seen anything,” said Goldhorn. “They reiterate to the detectives that their cameras were motion activated, and there was no video of Mrs. Gallaway. These detectives then took it a step further and asked to inspect their surveillance system. When they did that, they discovered another camera that wasn’t believed to have a helpful view. They reviewed it anyway and discovered that it doesn’t record video, but it takes still shots every six minutes.”

One of those still shots was the needle in the haystack.

“That’s when the detectives discovered this still image of an unknown object in front of an open garage,” said Goldhorn.

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