WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - Sarah Estes’ return has been one 30 years in the making for her family. The Winchester woman has been undetectable since 1988.
In the early days of March 2019, a trip to the hospital reunited Estes with her family.
“He said I have your sister Sarah here. I go ‘What?’…I mean it’s just unbelievable,” said Estes’ sister Linda Schooler.
On March 1, Schooler got a strange Facebook message from a hospital in Mississippi. The next day she made the long trip from her home in Winchester to a sister she hadn’t seen in more than thirty years.
Estes and her husband Mitchell disappeared together in 1988. Estes’ family thought the pair was going to New York City to see family, but that was the last anyone saw of them.
Estes has since told family members that Mitchell forced her to go with him, and the pair lived under false identities for the next few decades.
At the time Mitchell was wanted in Lexington for the murder of a man named Albert Lewis Boyd.
Mitchell reportedly died in 2015, according to Estes – nearly 30 years since the pair had fled Kentucky.
Then last month Estes visited a local hospital to be treated for cancer. That’s when doctors began examining her medical records, eventually leading Estes to give them her real name.
For Schooler, she says it was the not uncertainty and not knowing that took the hardest toll on those in Estes’ family.
“For my mother it was awful. Well it was for us too. My baby sister…and you couldn’t talk about it without crying. Every time I see a Jane Doe or a missing person, we always called about it. If they found a ladies body they couldn’t identify, I always called about it,” said Schooler.
“I told her I said, ‘We never quit looking for you.’ When we got to the hospital she said, ‘I thought y’all didn’t care.’ I said, ‘Oh no honey, we never stopped.’”
Schooler says her sister’s cancer has spread, and that she doesn’t have much time left. But what time she does have will be spent with her family.
Estes has since met her daughter she left behind when she disappeared. She was just five years old when her mother left town.
Winchester Police say that because Estes’ case is closed, they don’t anticipate any new charges. As for Lexington Police, they say they’ve received some new information related to the murder case Mitchell was a suspect in.
Authorities are also working to confirm Mitchell Estes’ reported death. They say they have a death certificate, but it’s for the alias Mitchell was living under at the time.