Searching for Cloudia Wells

UPDATE 2/28/15 – Robin held a candlelight vigil for her mom in Los Angeles on Saturday.  She has one more week before she has to return home.

Original story:  On Wednesday, I helped search for a homeless woman that might be Robin Wells Burton’s mom, Cloudia Wells that she has not seen for 15 years.

Backstory:

Robin’s mom, Cloudia Wells  was reported missing from San Diego 15 years ago, and she didn’t even know where to start to look until she saw the photo of the homeless woman in the LA Times (top photo).  Robin found out that the photo was taken in 2013 in Skid Row.  Robin knew she had to start searching there.  Robin planned to drive from Illinois to Los Angeles to look for her mom but didn’t have the funds.

After a few months, Robin was able to raise the money with help from many, including Stephanie Coplin, from “Letters to our Missing” and mediaforthemissing.org.  They began their trip last week.    Local news from  Collinsville, Ill. did a story before Robin left Illinois.

Also, I did a story about Robin and her search for her mom after Robin received a horrific phone call from the San Diego Police Dept. before she left on her trip, you can listen to that phone call by clicking on the link: Daughter of missing mother posts rude phone message from San Diego Police Department

Stephanie Coplin and volunteer Clint discuss the next step in the search- photo by JDean

Robin and Stephanie made it to San Diego on Monday, Feb. 23, and talked with the local Channel 10 news about her search.

Robin and Clint search near area
where woman from bus stop would walk
Photo by J Dean

Robin and Stephanie planned to go to Venice on Wednesday, but yesterday afternoon I saw a woman sitting at a bus stop in Santee and emailed the photo (see above) to Robin.  Robin wasn’t sure it was her.  I went back with my son this time and he gave the woman a bottle of water and took a video of the woman just for Robin to see, so we could eliminate the possibility and then we emailed that to Robin.
 

Robin viewed it but she still wasn’t sure.  Robin planned on going to LA that day, but then she began getting tips that Cloudia may be in San Diego.  The uncertainty of my photo and all the tips leading to San Diego, Robin decided to put off her trip back up to LA, and continue searching in the East County area of San Diego.

We stopped at the Crisis Center on N. Magnolia with a flyer and we ran into one of the homeless outside that said they had seen her and took the time to point out where the homeless go in that area.

  

Robin went to businesses on N. Magnolia in El Cajon and ran into a manager at the Weinerschnitzel that had video surveillance that showed the same woman I saw yesterday.  Everyone there was so supportive.  They said that she came in there at least twice a week.  The Starbucks in the same shopping center confirmed they saw her often too and they were just as supportive.  I even saw a Starbucks employee outside the store double checking a homeless woman that went walking by with a red shopping cart, to see if it was the woman from the bus stop. 

Since this was the area that the woman was seen everyday, Stephanie waited at the Weinerschnitzel, while we drove up and down the boulevard and behind buildings and then to a homeless shelter.  We got a tip that she might be near the bridge where the homeless went to sleep.

Homeless sleeping under the 67 bridge in El Cajon, Calif. – Photo by JDean

 Everywhere we went we kept getting positive sightings. Everyone knew her, everyone had seen her and knew she pushed a shopping cart up and down the main street.  That’s wonderful, but was that woman, Cloudia?  

Homeless Woman at the bus stop – Photo by Dawson Dean

We even headed to an area that had a broken fence after we received a tip.  Dawson Dean and Clint volunteered to search as it was a place you did not go alone.  They went through a hole in the fence and under the freeway, but nothing was found.  

Even with my photo and video and the surveillance video from the Weinerschnitzel, no one was sure it was not Cloudia.  Plus, everyone who had actually seen Cloudia face to face were saying they were the same.  With so many people saying it was the same person as in the photo, Robin could not leave San Diego until she knew for sure. 
All we knew for sure at this point was that the video at the Weinerschnitzel was definitely the same woman at the bus stop. But was that Cloudia? 

Then late Wednesday night, Robin told me that she had found the woman in the video who ended up having blue eyes and not brown, like her moms.

“As most of you know tips came in that led me to Santee, California Wednesday. To look for a homeless woman a few people thought was my mother. As I searched for this lady. I stopped by a church I found out She went to. I asked If I could go in their sanctuary. I sat down and just cried and prayed harder than I have in a long time. I search the streets, shelters, underpass, river. As we were getting ready to go get a motel room their She was. It was getting dark and she was walking with her shopping cart. We pulled up and I got out and spoke with her. Right away I knew it wasn’t my mother Cloudia Leslie Wells Missing. But I stayed a few minutes and spoke to this lady. She loved my necklace I had on. And I explained to her that it represented my mom who is also homeless. I handed the lady $20.00 and told her to be safe. She thanked me and went on her way. We had stopped to get food to go. We pulled over in a parking lot to eat. I see the woman again, but this time without her shopping cart. I watched her as she walked in the liquor store and purchased her a bottle of whiskey. Instead of getting mad, I wasn’t at all. How good it must of felt to her to have that drink. Jesus did turn water into wine. Don’t be so harsh to judge the homeless. We don’t know what they have been thru. We haven’t walked in their shoes. God led me here for a reason. I just hope that reason is to find my mom. Just wanted to share my experience with you all tonight. Good night and God bless you all.”

The woman at the bus stop was not Cloudia.  Robin’s search in San Diego has come to a disappointing end, but it doesn’t stop her from continuing. 

Homeless woman at bus stop  on N. Magnolia Ave in Santee – Photo by JDean

 Robin will get up tomorrow and start all over again, as you never know what tomorrow will bring. Each of Robin’s steps are steps of hope, and that hope may help someone else that is searching for their loved one, and help them to keep strong and keep searching.

About Missing Persons Admin 4570 Articles
Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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