PORTAGE, Indiana — Eli Soto works as a custodian at the Comfort Inn off of I-94 in Portage, Indiana.
He believes he may have had a quick encounter with 30-year-old Teleka Patrick around the time she went missing. He said a woman in a car similar to Patrick’s gold Lexus stopped him in the parking lot to ask for directions to Gary, Indiana.
“She just said that she was kind of lost, and she would like to know how to get to Gary. If you could get to Gary going this way,” Soto illustrated.
The hotel is visible from I-94, specifically exit 22, where Patrick’s car was found abandoned on the side of the freeway the night of Dec. 5. Her last confirmed sighting was earlier that evening in Kalamazoo.
“I did not see anything wrong with her behavior, absolutely not. When [Indiana State Police] showed me the sketch, what caught my attention was her hair. [It] was straight,” Soto said Patrick’s picture looked similar to the woman he gave directions to.
But the timing of when he saw the woman he spoke to and the direction she drove away in doesn’t fit with information police have released. However, it is welcomed information for Patrick’s family.
Dwayne Duncombe, her cousin, lives in Crete, Illinois. That’s about 30 minutes from where Patrick’s Lexus was found. He said there’s a lot of questions but no answers.
“Everybody is distraught. Everybody is just wondering where she is. We’ve been calling each other, praying with each other. Folks are having dreams about her at night, thinking where she could be,” Duncombe said.
Duncombe said he’s the last family member that saw her.
“She was with us for Thanksgiving, and I’m just hoping that she’ll be with our family again for Christmas,” he said.
That was five days before she disappeared. He and other relatives spent last week passing out flyers throughout the region, including Illinois, Indiana, and Kalamazoo.
Patrick’s parents flew from their home in Florida to Kalamazoo. Irene Patrick said it helps to be close to where the investigation is taking place.
“Actually that just really makes it worse for me, because the fact that I’m so close makes me think that I was right here. I wish she could have made it to my house, and that I could have helped in some way,” he said.
If you have any information on Teleka’s whereabouts, call the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department or Silent Observer at 269-343-2100.
Duncombe said there is a $10,000 reward for the person with information leading to her location.