Sixteen days after a frail, elderly woman was left in distress outside a Sunshine Coast hospital, police say they are no closer to finding out who she is.
Officers hope a ring the woman was wearing, and new images of her in a “healthier” state will help her be identified and family members come forward.
Acting Inspector Matt Robertson said Queensland Police had looked into various missing persons cases, but suggestions put forward to date had not matched.
The woman, believed to be between 80 and 90, was dropped outside the Nambour Hospital on Sunday, September 6, by a man who claims he found her in the Mooloolah Valley, more than 20 kilometres away, and wanted to take her to safety.
Police said the man indicated he was not the woman’s relative, friend or carer, and they had no reason to question “that he’s not just just a good Samaritan”.
“He came in, he stated exactly what occurred and at this stage the evidence suggests what he said occurred,” Acting Inspector Robertson said.
“He does believe he might have seen her in the area before.”
Woman can’t say who she is
The elderly woman has since been transported to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, where she is receiving ongoing care and tests.
Police initially said she was non-verbal but she has since begun communicating “somewhat”, as her health has improved.
However, Acting Inspector Robertson said she could not tell police what her name was or where she’s from.
“She’s much improved, she’s improving daily and getting her strength back … but she was frail and still is,” he said.
“She’s being challenging in relation to her condition, but as it’s improving we’re getting better communication channels with her.
“A lot of elderly people don’t like the fuss. Just because a person doesn’t want visitors I just wouldn’t want to draw any conclusions yet.
“Health authorities have been taking care of her, she’s an elderly person, we’re just making sure her health and safety are well managed.”
DNA testing not possible
Acting Inspector Robertson said “there is no criminality in this situation at the present time” and police had no ability to conduct DNA testing to help identify the woman.
“We haven’t got the authority to DNA test against the person’s will,” he said.
“Obviously, we’re making inquiries and doing everything we can, it is a very challenging situation.
“We still don’t know who her or her family is.
“The lady was wearing a ring that might be able to be identified.”
Missing persons, elder abuse not likely
Acting Inspector Robertston said police don’t believe the woman is victim of elder abuse.
“We haven’t said there’s anything criminal about it,” he said.
“Obviously, there might be more of a story to tell when she is reunited and the family can speak to us. The missing piece to the puzzle”.
Since news of the woman being left alone at the hospital first circulated, police have been inundated with leads relating to possible missing persons, including that of Bribie Island woman Marian Wallace who disappeared in 2014.
Acting Inspector Robertson said police were confident all suggestions put forward so far were not the woman.
“We’ve conducted a number of inquiries and a lot of names have been taken off the table,” he said.
According to police, officers have spent recent weeks door-knocking in the Mooloolah Valley area, visiting aged care facilities, the local CWA, RSL’s, local shopping centres and doctors clinics.
“It just takes one person who knows a person to make a phone call,” Acting Inspector Robertson said.
Anyone with information about the woman is urged to contact police immediately.