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Mystery Woman Identified as a Mental Patient from Oregon

August 8, 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland (AP) _ A young woman who was found abandoned at a church a month ago was identified Monday as a mental patient missing from Portland, Ore.

The woman, who was known only as Christina, was identified Monday as Rochelle Scholl and she has a severe mental disorder, said Ed Hallett, a spokesman for Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells. Doctors had thought she was a severely handicapped 14-year-old with a life-threatening muscle disease.

Hallet said Ms. Scholl, about 19, was identified by Portland psychologist Susan Beattie, who arrived in St. John’s on Monday. Ms. Scholl has been hospitalized in St. John’s for treatment.

″Any information I have is privileged,″ Beattie said.″Of course I’m surprised she turned up in St. John’s. That’s awfully far away from Portland, Oregon.″

The brown-haired woman was found on the steps of an Anglican cathedral in St. John’s on July 7, five days after she was last seen in Portland.

She was covered by a blanket and apparently unable to speak.

An intense investigation followed involving Canadian police, social and medical workers, customs officials, Scotland Yard and Interpol.

Len Power of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said her true identity was learned when a police department in a U.S. city he wouldn’t identify suggested checking with Portland authorities.

They contacted Ms. Scholl’s father, who reported her missing on July 16. He identified her pictures on Saturday, said Power. The father said Ms. Scholl hadn’t been seen since July 2, when she left home, telling a neighbor she was heading for California or Arizona with $1,000 in her pocket.

But it wasn’t the first time Ms. Scholl made others believe she was unable to talk.

News reports from January 1988 said she turned up at an airport in Des Moines, Iowa, clutching a baby bottle and a handwritten letter authorities originally believed was written by her mother, Power said.

Three months earlier she was found in an airport bathroom in Springfield, Mo., with a baby bottle and a similar letter that quoted from the Bible and blamed her apparent disabilities on falling short of the ″Lord’s blessing.″

Although seemingingly mute and handicapped, Ms. Scholl was later found to be able-bodied and able to speak.

John Efford, Newfoundland’s social services minister, said, ″There’s a lot of questions going to have to be answered. Hopefuly now that she has been identified all the rest of the information will piece together very quickly.″

The discovery ends a month-long search for information about the girl who social workers said used sign language to spin a tale about sailing to Newfoundland from England on a white yacht, accompanied by her mother, three men and a nanny.

Officials said she appeared to understand English, German and Slovene, a Yugoslavian dialect.

Power said police are still trying to find out how Ms. Scholl got to Newfoundland and are checking with airlines and buses that travel to the province.

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