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AP Florida

Missing Tampa woman found safe in Punta Gorda

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:06 PM

A Tampa woman missing since Friday in Punta Gorda was located alive there late Sunday night.

Ellen Anne Quinlan, 27, was spotted at 9:20 p.m. standing near a tree in an area heavy with brush, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

A sheriff's office helicopter equipped with heat-seeking equipment located her in an area south of the Lazy Lagoon Mobile Home Park, off U.S. 17, where her car was found Friday night.

Deputies had to cut their way through the brush and reached Quinlan in 10 minutes after spotting her from the air.

Quinlan was talking when she was taken to Charlotte Regional Medical Center in good condition, the sheriff's office reported.

The days-long search for Quinlan began Friday, when her abandoned Toyota Camry was found at the mobile home park northeast of town, with its windows down, the keys inside and Quinlan's purse on the front seat.

Deputies scoured the area and talked to residents. Searchers called in tracking dogs, the sheriff's office dive team, aircraft and the helicopter equipped heat-seeking equipment. Deputies also made reverse 911 calls to homes in the area seeking information.

On Sunday, deputies launched a search boat equipped with scan sonar and patrolled the waterways near the mobile home park.

Quinlan's parents, Gerard and Anne Quinlan, went to Punta Gorda to help with the search and told deputies Quinlan had not taken needed medications for the past week. They also said they did not know why she would be in Charlotte County.

She was last seen at their Tampa home Thursday night, deputies said. She left her cellphone there.

Witnesses told deputies they saw Quinlan on Friday afternoon walking around the area in a confused state, and one witness said he saw her walking out of a canal. Another person told deputies her car was in the right lane facing the wrong way.

Quinlan attended Tampa Preparatory School and Washington and Lee University. She was a royal maid and candidate for queen of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla in 2008 and was a debutant in 2004.

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