published Friday, April 18th, 2014

Missing Cleveland woman struggles with illnesses

By Gulfive.com

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi — Tammy Renee King, a Cleveland, Tenn., woman who showed up on the Mississippi coast several weeks ago, struggles with mental illnesses and has disappeared several times before, her mother said this week.

Linda Romines said her 50-year-old daughter battles schizophrenia and manic depression, often leaves home without warning, and has previously shown up in places such as Boston, Washington and Delaware.

"She has no fear, I don't think, and no reasoning," said Romines, also of Cleveland. "That's what scares me. She'll lay down on the side of the road and go to sleep. It's just unreal."

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department located King, who has gone missing off-and-on since June 2011, walking along Mississippi 613 in the Big Point community Tuesday night, according to Jackson County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Cherie Ward.

King was taken to Singing River Hospital for observation, and her family in Tennessee has been notified, Ward said.

She said King had been taken in by a Grand Bay couple in March but disappeared again at a Big Point church Sunday.

Romines said her daughter is "supposed to take medication, but when she's off of it, she just walks off and turns up everywhere."

King most recently ended up in Boston, where she had been for two years before the family found her, Romines said, and she was sent home to Tennessee around Christmastime.

During that time, King reconnected with her 26-year-old daughter, whom she hadn't seen since she was a young child, and attempted to make a family in Macon, Ga., with the daughter and a 19-year-old son that Romines had mostly raised.

"That didn't work out because Tammy took off again," Romines said, noting King usually hops on a bus to get away.

It was after she left Macon that King turned up in Mobile County.

Charlton Thompson and his wife, Christie Gertz, took King in after finding her sleeping at a Tillman's Corner carwash and gave her a room at their Grand Bay home.

"We drilled her for weeks trying to get her to tell us her name, but she would tell us different names," Thompson said. "She would tell us these wild stories, like that she was Jimmy Carter's secretary."

The couple, who often ministers to the homeless, "didn't have the heart to dump her off at the hospital," he said.

They even took her to the Mobile Police Department to have her fingerprints checked, but the results came back with an incorrect name and did not list her as a missing person.

It wasn't until King walked out of a Temple Baptist Church service in Jackson County that the couple went through her things and found a debit card with her real name on it.

"I Googled it, and the missing persons report came back with a picture of her," Thompson said. "We were so excited to find it, but it just broke our hearts that we'd lost her."

Bradley County Sheriff's Office spokesman Bob Gault said Thursday that officials there were surprised to hear someone found a June 2011 "missing person" when King had been located in Virginia in January 2012.

Gault believes a withdrawn missing persons report lingered online and helped lead to King's most recent location being discovered.

"She was located (in 2012) and she was OK, and we took her off of NCIC and off our website," Gault said of actions taken in 2012. He quickly notified media that he knew posted the alert online telling them to take it down, which they did.

All except WDNN in Dalton, Ga.

"Fast forward to this past Monday," Gault said. "I got a call from (Dalton Channel 10 president and general manager) Calvin Means at WDNN and he had received an email or call from a lady in Alabama who had seen her (King) on their website."

Bradley officials then communicated with Mississippi authorities to share information about King with them.

While she was recently in Mississippi, King often took random walks, Thompson said, but would come back. This time, though, she kept walking.

"We went to get her after church, and she was nowhere in sight," Thompson said.

He described King as "good with people" but generally quiet.

"She has a real sweet spirit," he said. "She usually seems happy but lost in her mind."

She's not dangerous or violent, both Thompson and Romines said.

Staff writer Ben Benton contributed to this story.

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