Woman featured on cold case cards calls detectives, ends 18-year search for her

EVERETT — A former Stanwood woman who was reported missing in 1993 has called sheriff’s detectives, ending a nearly two decade search for her.

A woman claiming to be Judith Bello left a telephone message last week for Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Kelly Willoth. Bello said she had seen her profile on the sheriff’s web site.

Bello is featured on the eight of hearts in the county’s first-ever cold case playing cards. She was among seven people included in the deck of cards who vanished under suspicious circumstances.

Bello left her job in December 1993 at the National Food Corporation in Silvana. She didn’t pick up her 3-year-old son from day-care or make it home. Her car was found later that day at the Stanwood Post Office.

Detectives believed her disappearance was suspicious. She was close to her family and it seemed unlikely that she would voluntarily leave her son.

The woman who called Willoth last week said she was living in California.

Since receiving the call, detectives worked to confirm the caller’s identity.

Through conversations with her family and other evidence, detectives are confident that the Bello is alive, sheriff’s Chief Kevin Prentiss said.

The investigation revealed that Bello left the state in 1993 because of problems with her husband. Investigators don’t know why she didn’t contact her family or the sheriff’s office until now.

This case shows that “there are a lot of reasons why people go missing, and not all of them are bad,” Prentiss said. “Sometimes people just don’t want to be found.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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