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Missing mom arrested in Georgia

LindL. Fellenbaum

Linda L. Fellenbaum

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:25AM

To her friends and family back home, Linda Fellenbaum seemed to have disappeared without a trace — inexplicably leaving behind her car, cell phone, and her children.

The disappearance of the 33-year-old mother of three prompted a candlelight vigil and a lengthy search as worried family members sought answers to her whereabouts. Police canvassed the neighborhood multiple times, looking.

Their questions were solved last week.

Fellenbaum was picked up Wednesday by police at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after the missing woman allegedly filched some electronics owned by the University of Georgia. Even more puzzling, she was using a fake name and only a comparison of her fingerprints confirmed her to authorities her true identity.

“We’ve been on a hell roller coaster ride since all this has happened,” said Fellenbaum’s father, Willie Barr. “Right now we’re very happy that she’s alive and well, but there’s a lot of questions we need to know.”

Fellenbaum lived in Hinsdale before moving to Joliet earlier this year. She previously lived in Chicago, where most of her family is now. They are originally from Rockford.

She was last seen at about 8 p.m. on Oct. 21, leaving a residence in the 3600 block of Crockett Court in Joliet. She left on foot, leaving behind her personal belongings. Family members said she had been living with a man for two months in the house — on a cul-de-sac that is part of the Old Renwick Trail subdivision off of Renwick Road and near Interstate 55 — before she went missing.

Family members reported her missing four days later. Ten days after she went missing, on Halloween, she had a birthday, turning 33.

Throughout her disappearance, there have been only questions without answers. Until now.

Barr said Fellenbaum’s family is baffled by her behavior and have no idea how she got to Georgia or why she cut off contact with them and left. Fellenbaum is listed as an inmate in the Fulton County Jail, being held until she can be transferred back to Athens-Clarke County to face a burglary charge.

“Whenever there was a problem, she would contact me. But this problem, she didn’t make contact with me,” Barr said. “She would always let us know when there was an issue in her life. I read this stuff on the Internet and I wonder if that’s my daughter.”

Eric Dellinger, administrative lieutenant for the University of Georgia police, confirmed Fellenbaum was arrested in connection with a burglary at a hotel and convention center on campus where two university-owned iPads, an iPhone, a laptop computer and other items were stolen.

Jimmy Williamson, chief of the University of Georgia police, said they found out Fellenbaum left Athens on a transportation system that runs between Athens hotels and the Atlanta airport. He asked Atlanta police to keep an eye out for her, and they detained her at the airport until university police could arrest her, he said.

Fellenbaum continued to use a fake name as university police were interviewing her, Williamson said.

Joliet police Cmdr. Brian Benton said Fellenbaum’s fingerprints gave her away as a missing person from Illinois. As of Friday afternoon, the Fulton County Sheriff’s website listed Fellenbaum in custody for “safekeeping.”

Benton said once Joliet police confirmed her identity, they asked Georgia police to find out where Fellenbaum’s 2-year-old son was, who was also reported missing. Fellenbaum told police the boy had been legally adopted in Illinois, and Benton said the story checked out.

“We have no reason to believe any harm has come to the child,” Benton said. “Fortunately, this case ended on a positive note with both mother and son being safe.”

Barr said Fellenbaum’s other children are both in good hands. One is staying with her father in Wisconsin and the other is with his family in Country Club Hills.

Joliet police have not had a chance to interview Fellenbaum, and do not know why she left town or why she has not contacted her family or friends all this time.

“That’s a little mystery to us,” Benton said.

Fellenbaum will not face criminal charges here in connection with her disappearance, Benton said.

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