Family IDs Mystery Calif. Woman With Amnesia

Her name is Ashley, not Sam—and she's American
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2015 10:03 AM CDT
"Sam" has been identified as Ashley Menatta.   (Facebook)

(Newser) – A woman found on the streets of Carlsbad, Calif., in February and believed to be suffering from retrograde amnesia has been claimed by a family that's now filling in the blanks about her identity, the BBC reports. "Well we have some great news...PRAYERS have been answered!!!!" reads the post on the Facebook page set up for "Sam," with those answered prayers including her real name: Ashley Menatta (some media are spelling it Manetta), 53, a Pennsylvania native who's lived in Arizona and then California for several years and has sisters in Colorado and Maryland, reports NBC News. After NBC 7 posted her story on its Facebook page earlier this week, Menatta's nephew recognized his aunt and immediately called his mom, one of Menatta's sisters. When the sisters finally were able to touch base on the phone, it was, as Menatta put it, "extremely emotional." "We were all sobbing. They're so sorry I had to go through what I did during this time without them," she tells NBC News.

When firefighters found Menatta "barely conscious" in February, she couldn't give them any info about herself, notes the BBC; a hospital visit revealed she was suffering from stage 3 ovarian cancer, and doctors pulled out a volleyball-sized tumor. They also told Menatta they think she lost her memory due to tumor antibodies, per NBC News. She had a slight Australian accent and had memories of being in various spots Down Under, so authorities initially focused their search there. (It turns out she had taken extended trips there, per NBC.) Menatta, who was single, is now going to live with one of her sisters in Maryland, where she'll continue to receive chemo for her aggressive disease. She credits God with getting her through her mysterious ordeal. "I had peace where there should be none and I believed He would bring me back together with people that ... were family and I trusted Him," she tells NBC. (A man found in a Norwegian snowdrift had no idea who he was, either.)

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