Store owner: Missing woman seemed incapacitated | August 31, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 31, 2018

Store owner: Missing woman seemed incapacitated

Last person to see Wamaitha Kaboga-Miller says she should not have been driving

by Sue Dremann and Jocelyn Dong

The last person known to have seen Palo Alto resident Wamaitha Kaboga-Miller before she vanished on Aug. 17 said the 66-year-old woman was shaking and appeared to be too disabled to drive.

Kaboga-Miller left her Crescent Park home in her 2002 silver Mercedes-Benz CLK with California license plate number DP241LU at about 9:15 a.m. and drove to the Country Time Market at 2200 University Ave. in East Palo Alto, where she was seen on surveillance video purchasing cigarettes. She then appeared to drive away from the market on University and has not been seen since, nor has she communicated with her family, according to her older son, Njoroge Kaboga-Miller.

Aziz Khalil, co-owner of Country Time Market, said on Tuesday that Kaboga-Miller was in the store for 15 to 20 minutes. She was shaking while she bought two packages of Marlboro Lights cigarettes. He said it was apparent that she was disabled — so much so that he offered to help her get money or a credit card out of her wallet.

"It took her 10 minutes trying to get the credit card or cash from her purse. I asked, 'Are you OK? Did you have a stroke?' She was not really looking healthy. I told her if she would trust me, I would take out the credit card for her, and I charged her $21 for the cigarettes," he said.

Khalil said that Kaboga-Miller told him she had recently had back surgery. After making the purchase, she continued to remain at the counter, still unsteady and shaking. He did not think she should have been behind the wheel.

"When I got busy, I didn't see her when she left. I didn't know she was driving. If I did, I would have stopped her," he said.

A flyer of Kaboga-Miller being distributed by her family is posted on the store's front door. Patrons entering the market on Tuesday asked if it was true that her car had been found. Khalil said he had heard that police had located the vehicle on Monday and towed it away but had not located Kaboga-Miller.

But Palo Alto police spokeswoman Janine De la Vega said officers have not found the car. Police had no further information to offer as of late Thursday morning. East Palo Alto police Cmdr. Jeff Liu said his department also has no information regarding the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Kaboga-Miller's family is baffled by her disappearance. She was afraid of the Dumbarton Bridge, was an infrequent driver and did not bring her cellphone, according to Njoroge Kaboga-Miller. Family and friends held a search party last Saturday and were joined by her former coworkers and even strangers, who helped canvass the blocks immediately adjacent to the Country Time Market as well as to the Palo Alto Baylands.

In addition to posting and handing out flyers, searchers were instructed to look in all parking lots and also for signs of a car driving off the road, such as tire tracks and broken branches.

In the neighborhood near the market, Sondra Bishop and Catherine DeLuca of Menlo Park walked the blocks and peered down long driveways in search of the car.

"Everyone's mystified," Bishop said as she carried a stack of 11x17-inch "MISSING" posters featuring a smiling Kaboga-Miller. Bishop said she could relate to Kaboga-Miller.

"We've all gone out in PJs," Bishop said in reference to Kaboga-Miller's attire when she was last seen.

DeLuca agreed. "You think you're going to be gone five minutes," she said. "It could be any one of us."

In the baylands, where a constant parade of airplanes to and from the Palo Alto Airport thrummed overhead, a group of Kaboga-Miller's former co-workers scoured the shores of the marshland for any signs of their friend. Though they found small miscellaneous items, including clothing, nothing seemed to relate to Kaboga-Miller, one man said.

Others wondered aloud if enough surveillance videos in the area have been reviewed to track her movements on Aug. 17.

Although it has been years since they were all colleagues at Epigram, a startup where Kaboga-Miller worked in procurement, they recalled her sociable and happy nature.

"She is a great lady," said a co-worker who declined to give his name. "We're just trying to find her or find some clue."

The Palo Alto Police Department is the lead agency in the search for Kaboga-Miller. On Saturday, her younger son, Clovis Kaboga-Miller, said that a sergeant and two other officers were searching Bayfront Expressway from East Palo Alto to Redwood City for signs of his mother or her car. The Menlo Park Fire Department used a drone team on Aug. 24 to look for her, he said.

This week, flyers asking the public for information about Kaboga-Miller are posted on the street trees in her Crescent Park neighborhood.

The family is considering holding a second search party, the missing woman's daughter-in-law, Sophia Kaboga-Miller, said on Tuesday.

"We got some leads from police, and we are working to follow up on that information," she said. For now, the family is not making those leads public, she said.

Kaboga-Miller is described as a 5-foot, 1-inch tall black woman weighing about 120 pounds, according to the missing person flyer. Police said she was last seen wearing a black puffy vest over a white long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pajama pants.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413 or the family at 650-814-1189, or to email cloviskmiller@gmail.com. Anonymous tips can be emailed to the police at paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann and Editor Jocelyn Dong can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com and jdong@paweekly.com.

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2018 at 11:06 am

This is sad.

Even if the store clerk knew she was driving, I don't know if legally there was anything she could have done to stop her getting into her car and driving away.

I think that by this stage and the car not having been found that there is going to be a sad outcome to this. I sincerely hope I am wrong.


Like this comment
Posted by bartender
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2018 at 11:08 pm

Can opiate prescribing MDs be held to the same standard as a bartender for
continuing to serve an inebriated customer? Asking for a friend...


Like this comment
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 31, 2018 at 9:55 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Was her husband aware of her condition? Was she recovering from recent back surgery or was she taking medication long term? Just wondering why she was so imparded that early in the morning and why no one was watching her?


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields