After Day-Long 'Massive' Police Search, Missing Santa Barbara TV Anchorwoman Comes Home. Questions Remain. Did Police Search Too Early? And Why Won't Anchorwoman Say Where She Was All Day? Santa Barbara Independent, LA Times, AP
Here's a strange one out of Santa Barbara, Calif., which is about 95 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles.
The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting that Paula Lopez, 48, who is the popular TV anchor of the 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on Santa Barbara's KEYT-TV, "returns home eight hours after disappearing and prompting [a] massive search."
The Independent adds that at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, "Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Kelly Hoover just released more information on Lopez’s disappearance.
"Just after 10 a.m., Hoover said, authorities received a call from concerned family members. They said the last time they had talked to Lopez was at 9:30 a.m. and that her last known location was her home. ...
"Deputies, assisted by a helicopter and two K-9 units, have been searching the area throughout the day. So has the county’s Search and Rescue team.
"Lopez ... was last seen wearing a black sweat suit and tennis shoes. 'If you see her or have any information on her whereabouts you are asked to call the Santa Barbara County Detectives Bureau at 681-4150,' said Hoover."
About an hour earlier, at 4 p.m., KEYT station general manager Mark Danielson released this statement on KEYT’s website:, according to the Independent report: “This morning we learned that a beloved member of the KEYT family, Paula Lopez, has gone missing. We have been in touch with her family and know they, as well as local authorities, are doing everything possible to find her safe and sound. It is clearly a difficult time for her family and our own family at KEYT. All of us at KEYT stand ready to assist in any way we can. For now, on behalf of KEYT... our thoughts and prayers are extended to Paula as well as her family and those searching to find her. We hope for her safe and speedy return.”
At 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times posted a story with this headline: "Family declines to say how TV anchor Paula Lopez went missing."
The L.A. Times story says, "The family of Santa Barbara TV news anchor Paula Lopez, who was reported missing but was later found, said Wednesday night that they were not elaborating on how she returned home.
"Lopez, 48, who anchors for KEYT-TV Channel 3, had 'gone missing' Wednesday about 10:30 a.m., the news station said in a statement. Lopez is a longtime fixture in the community and is married to a Superior Court judge.
"Her family alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office that she was gone, triggering a response by deputies who used search dogs as they scoured the area. The rapid response raised questions about whether the family received favorable treatment. Often, law enforcement authorities wait 24 hours before declaring a person missing and launching search efforts."
The L.A. Times story continued, "News footage showed Lopez’s husband, [Judge] Frank Ochoa, arriving at the home Wednesday night in his gray Lexus with what appeared to be a woman in the passenger’s seat. The family contacted the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday about 5:30 p.m. to say that Lopez was safe at home, KEYT-TV said on its website.
“'Paula has been located,' a spokesman for the family told reporters gathered outside the home Wednesday night. 'We’re not giving out any details right now.'"
It was not known whether it was one of the sheriff's deputies who actually found Lopez.
The Associated Press version of the story added that Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office spokesperson Hoover "declined to comment on the reasons surrounding Lopez' disappearance, citing a private family matter."
The AP story also noted that at one time Lopez "worked at KCAL-9 in Los Angeles for six years, according to her online biography."