Real Name: Unknown
Case: Lost Friend
Location: Modesto, California
Date: December 30, 1984
Details: Sixteen-year-old Wendy Radcliffe had a close relationship with her grandmother, Bernice Gardner, especially after her parents' divorce. In 1984, they spent Christmas vacation together in Oregon. On December 30, they headed back home to southern California when their car overheated. They stopped across the street from a restaurant in Modesto where Wendy called her mother from a pay phone, telling her that she and Bernice would be spending the night there.
A few minutes later, Wendy and Bernice decided to go to the restaurant. Wendy ran across the street through the traffic while Bernice waited. When the traffic appeared to have let up, Bernice crossed the street, but while doing so she was tragically struck by a car. Wendy ran to the restaurant and pleaded for help. When she went back to the scene, she was pushed away from Bernice because the people assumed she was a bystander.
Then, an unknown woman from the restaurant came to Wendy, hugged her, and tried to console her. She told her that it was okay to cry and that everything would be all right. At the hospital, Bernice was rushed into surgery. Wendy was alone again; then, while in the waiting room, the woman came once again to console her. She asked her how she was doing and told her that she wanted to be there for her because she knew that she had no one else there to comfort her.
A few minutes later, a nurse came and said that Bernice's condition was stable and that she could go see her. Wendy and the woman then went to the floor where she was and talked to the doctor. They were horrified to learn that there was an error and that she had actually died from her injuries. Wendy began to cry and break down; again, the woman consoled her and told her that she was going to be fine. The woman stayed until Wendy's family arrived; she then left without saying a word. Wendy realized that had the woman not been there, she would have fallen apart and not be able to cope with Bernice's death as well as she did.
Wendy later moved on with her life, got married, and has three children. She hopes to find the unknown woman, whom she calls her "guardian angel" and thank her for what she has done and how she has changed her life.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 23, 1996 episode.
Results: Solved. On the night of the broadcast, a Modesto, California woman named Karen Barnes called the telecenter and identified herself as Wendy's unknown good Samaritan. They spoke over the phone that night where Wendy thanked her. Karen told her that she had thought about her hundreds of times since that night, that she was great to hear how much she changed Wendy's life and how Bernice would be proud of her for who she is now.
Less than a week later, Karen flew from Modesto to Seattle, Washington. She and Wendy were joyfully reunited at a hotel in Seattle; Wendy was finally able to thank her in person.