Woman Vanishes After Crashing Into Car
5000 sightings have been reported, but Patricia Meehan, believed to be suffering from amnesia, is still missing.
Patricia Bernadette Meehan was born on November 1, 1951, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Dolly and Thomas Meehan. She also has a brother, Terry, and a sister.
Meehan went to college in Oklahoma City where she studied early childhood development — her goal was to work in a daycare. However, in 1985, Meehan moved to Bozeman, Montana to be a ranch hand. She cited her love of animals to be the reason for her move. She also worked odd jobs on the side.
At age 37, Meehan was suffering from depression and seeing a psychologist. She was also planning on moving back to Pennsylvania to be closer to her parents.
On the night of April 20, 1989, Peggy Bueller and her parents were driving west on Highway 200, near Circle, Montana. In the car right behind them was Carol Heintz, an off-duty police dispatcher.
Heading east, toward Bueller, was a car driving on the wrong side of the road. Bueller quickly swerved onto the shoulder of the road, managing to not collide with the car. However, Heintz wasn’t so lucky and crashed with the oncoming car. Fortunately, she was unharmed.
While exiting her car, Heintz noticed that the woman who crashed into her had gotten out of her car and was now staring silently at her. Meanwhile, Bueller quickly headed over to Heintz’s car to see if the woman was okay. When she approached, she saw the mysterious woman climb over the fence and stare back at the scene of the accident — as if she was a spectator and not a part of the incident. Bueller then watched as the woman vanished into the field.
Heintz and Bueller’s parents stayed at the scene while Bueller drove to the nearby town and phoned authorities.
After the police arrived at the scene, they ran the woman’s license plate number through the DMV’s database and quickly identified the runaway woman: Patricia Meehan.
Authorities immediately began searching the area. Not even a mile away, shoeprints were found and police believed them to be Meehan’s. They followed the trail but it disappeared into the terrain. For the next few days, a helicopter, dozens of local volunteers, some mounted on horses and others with ATVs, searched the region— including nearby abandoned coal mines.
Police hypothesized that Meehan fled the area by hitchhiking or on a hay truck that was 0.5 miles away at the time. However, there is no concrete evidence of either of these actually happening. It is believed that Meehan is likely to have some sort of amnesia.
Interestingly, Meehan’s landlord, who lived with her at the ranch and was the last person to speak to her, said she seemed hyper and was not acting like her normal self.
Meehan’s family soon flew to Montana and distributed over 2000 flyers. They also stated that they didn’t know why Meehan was 400 miles away from her home or why she would be near Circle, Montana.
While searching through Meehan’s belongings, her family found what is most likely her last picture.
Over 5000 sightings of Meehan have been reported in the Pacific Northwest. By June, 3 of the 25 reported sightings had been confirmed by authorities. A large part were reports of seeing the woman in truck stops between Montana and Seattle.
May 4: A police officer is certain he saw and spoke to Meehan, in Luverne, Minnesota. According to him, Meehan was alone drinking water for five hours at a Hardee’s restaurant. When the establishment closed, at 2 AM, she went across the street to a 24-hour diner. There, the officer finally spoke to her. He asked her name, but she refused to answer. At one point of the conversation, she claimed to be from Colorado but then changed it to Israel.
May 5: Two sightings of Meehan were reported in South Dakota. The first occurred from midnight to 11:30 AM. According to a waitress in a Sioux Falls diner inside a truck stop, Meehan sat alone drinking coffee. In Murdo, another diner waitress claimed Meehan was there with a man in his thirties later that night, around 10 and 11 PM.
May 19: Meehan was seen in a diner near her home. A waitress there claimed Meehan had ordered and ate breakfast quickly. When asked why she was in such a hurry, Meehan said she had to go shopping at 9 AM — which the waitress thought was weird. A different waitress at the same diner remembered seeing Meehan there and said the woman seemed disorientated and appeared to have been talking to herself.
Days Later: Meehan was reportedly seen at a horse auction in Billings, Montana.
May 30: A truck driver reported passing by Meehan on Interstate 19, in Washington. He offered the woman a ride, but she declined. Soon after, another driver asked Meehan if she needed anything and she responded by saying her car had broken down and she was going to a phone.
Following Week: In Tacoma, Washington, Meehan was seen at a truck stop on Interstate 5 by a port of Tacoma employee. She was asking people for directions to Aberdeen.
Interestingly, Meehan had a couple of connections to Washington. Her sister had lived in Seattle and her ex-boyfriend, Kurt Fletcher, lived in Spokane. Police believe that she spent some time in Washington after going missing.
August 30, 1990: A woman was arrested for littering in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She said she was a missionary traveling from Montana to Washington. This woman was believed to be Meehan until fingerprint analysis proved she was not the missing woman. However, Meehan’s ex-boyfriend Fletcher remarked that the woman strongly resembled and sounded like Meehan.
Meehan’s family traveled over 8000 miles through the Northwest. They spent countless hours chasing dead ends, showing people pictures of Meehan and asking if people had ever seen their loved one.
Meehan’s parents have since passed away.
Patricia Meehan, who would now be 67, still remains missing.
Check out Cat Leigh's Medium publication for more true crime stories: True Crime by Cat Leigh.