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Amnesiac Teen-Ager Found in New York Snowdrift Identified

February 8, 1996

BUSHNELL, Fla. (AP) _ A teen-ager discovered weeks ago in a New York City snowdrift and hospitalized with amnesia was identified Wednesday as a 17-year-old Florida girl who disappeared on her way to school on Jan. 3.

Cheryl Ann Barnes, 17, had been at Beth Israel Medical Center since Jan. 18 but didn’t know who she was, said her grandfather, Bill Barnes. She had been admitted after she was found sitting in the snowdrift, acting incoherently.

``When she came to ... she was singing hymns and praising the Lord,″ Barnes said. ``She cried when they asked her who she was.″

Miss Barnes vanished from Bushnell, about 50 miles west of Orlando, after withdrawing $100 from her bank account on her way to school.

Police say they don’t know how she got to New York, and the next sign of her was on Jan. 18, the day she was found in a snowdrift _ and the day police say her car was towed from near the Empire State Building.

The license plate number wasn’t checked until Tuesday. It was the first break in her disappearance.

After New York authorities told Florida officials they had found the car, Miss Barnes’ photo was flashed on New York and Florida television news stations.

A nurse at Beth Israel saw the newscast Wednesday, recognized her patient, and told the girl she thought she knew who she was, Barnes and law enforcement officials said.

``(Cheryl Ann) started to cry,″ Barnes said.

The nurse called police, who contacted Florida officials.

The girl’s grandmother and father talked to her on the phone Wednesday and confirmed her identity, as did New York City police. The girl still does not remember who she is, Barnes said.

A Pennsylvania pastor said Wednesday that the girl stopped at his church Jan. 14, saying her parents were dead and she was on her way to New York to live with an aunt.

``She made an impression,″ Revival Tabernacle Pastor James R. Bond said. ``She seemed like a happy young person with a lot of energy. Still, I suspected something was out of place.″

Beth Israel could not immediately confirm the story, a spokeswoman said, citing patient confidentiality laws.

The grandmother and father were flying to New York to take the girl home, Barnes said.

Miss Barnes was not on any medication and had no previous history of amnesia or any other serious illness, officials said. Other than the amnesia, she was in good physical condition.

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