Mother of 3 Goes Missing in Barstow After Walk in Mojave Desert

Priscilla Delzell, 44, went missing July 18 which prompted an extensive search with no results, police said

Police and relatives were searching for a Barstow mother of three with bipolar disorder, who went missing last week after going for a walk in the blazing-hot Mojave Desert.

Relatives of Priscilla Delzell, 44, first reported her missing shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday, as temperatures were reaching the triple digits. San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies searched the area but couldn't find her, said Sgt. Robert Alexander.

No foul play was suspected, Alexander said Sunday afternoon.

Delzell is about 5 feet, 5 inches tall with long, light-brown hair and blue eyes. She wears black-rimmed glasses and was last seen carrying an orange camouflage backpack.

She was most likely wearing a t-shirt, light blue jeans and white tennis shoes, according to a Facebook page dedicated to finding her.

Her husband, Carl Delzell, said he and his wife had just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on July 8.

"She's my high school sweetheart," the 45-year-old said. "My one and only."

The couple has three children, ages 22, 18 and 11.

Carl Delzell has supported his wife through her decades-long struggle with bipolar disorder, going to the psychiatrist with her and helping her keep on track with her medication and lifestyle habits, he said.

She often went for walks for exercise, but she wasn't supposed to go alone on Thursday - and not in the desert city's scorching midday heat. She had just changed medications and was going through an episode of depression, Carl Delzell said.

About 11:30 a.m., just moments before she went missing, two of her children were in the front yard of their home talking with a neighbor when Priscilla Delzell came outside with a backpack.

Her daughter asked what the backpack was for, and she replied that she was bringing toilet paper for her walk, just in case she had to go. The answer puzzled her children, and later her husband - they never go on long enough walks to have to worry about that, he said.

She headed off toward the desert, where she usually goes, and that was the last they saw of her. Her son called Carl Delzell and he rushed home from work to check on her.

He walked along their usual route three times, then called his church and the sheriff's department for help, he said.

He discovered that she left her cell phone, money, and everything else at home. He said he suspected she might have taken a larger dose of medication at her doctor's direction and become disoriented.

"Everything she needed, she left behind," he said. "Is it possible ... when she woke up in the morning she actually didn't know who she was or where she was or why she was here? Then she picks up something completely random, goes out the door, has a completely random answer and walks off?"

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department took over the search and told him to stay home. Deputies used a helicopter and a search team, but failed to turn up any sign of her, her husband said.

After they called it a night around 10 p.m., Carl Delzell said he went back out and searched until 2 a.m.

He has been searching ever since, calling in favors and getting help from colleagues at Barstow Community College, where he has worked for 21 years. Some of his coworkers canceled plans to join search parties.

People have chimed in with tips - some said they think they saw her outside a market or on a road - but none have been confirmed. He said a store owner has agreed to let him look at surveillance camera footage to see if it captured her.

Carl Delzell said he planned to go out again to search for her tonight, as soon as the heat eased up a little bit.

Anybody with information can contact the Barstow Sheriff’s Station at (760) 256-4838.

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