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The loved ones of a Texas woman who went missing after leaving for a job in Florida earlier this year are continuing their search for answers about her mysterious disappearance.
Ashley Lucas, 34, was last seen by a friend in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area in late September, NBC’s “Dateline” reports. Lucas left her home state of Texas in July to travel to Florida with the intent of caring for her friend’s elderly mother for two weeks. That job ended early when the woman’s daughter came home from vacation earlier than expected.
Jeff Epperly, the friend who’d given her the work and later her roommate, told “Dateline” that after the job caring for his mother ended, Lucas decided that she wanted to stay in Florida, so the two of them got an apartment together in the Dania Beach area. However, in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Lucas had started “breaking down.” He said that she’d been struggling with “drug addiction, mental issues,” and other things in her life, and also worried about her mother back in Texas.
“She became very paranoid and thought her mom had been kidnapped,” Epperly told “Dateline.” “She even thought I was involved. But then she’d apologize and everything would be OK a few days later.”
According to Epperly, after having a series of anxiety attacks in August, Lucas checked herself into a rehab center in Fort Lauderdale. She seemed like she intended to return home, having asked her friend to hold on to important documents until she came back, Epperly said, adding that was the last he heard from her. After weeks passed, he said he discovered that she’d checked herself out of a rehab facility on September 19.
Epperly reported her missing to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department on October 9, according to the NBC report.
During the course of their investigation, police found that Lucas had made it up to the West Palm Beach area, where local police enforced the Baker Act on September 24, allowing them to hold her for involuntary examination for up to 72 hours. She was released a few days later and seemingly vanished after that.
Ashley’s sister Jennifer Ackerson told “Dateline” that although Lucas has been known to go off on her own for short periods of time, it is unlike her not to check in with her family at all for this long of a period. She said that the last time she spoke to her sister was in August when they discussed her plans to come home.
Lucas’ family has not seen her since she left for Florida in July, and they say that all they want now is for her to return safely, according to the NBC report.
“We just want to know that she’s OK,” Ackerson said. “For no one to hear from her for this long… it doesn’t make sense.”
Lucas is 5’9” and weighs around 145 pounds, according to a missing person poster shared on the “Finding Ashley Lucas” Facebook page. She is a white woman with brown hair and green eyes and has multiple tattoos. Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts are encouraged to contact the Fort Lauderdale Police Department at 954-764-4357
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