Patricia Brown, often the one calling Oak Park police, heard from the station herself last week. “An officer called and she said, ‘We found Demetria,’ ” said Brown, whose 18-year-old granddaughter, Demetria Watkins, has been missing since early April.
Demetria, who has a developmental disability that her family says can impair judgment about her safety, left home the afternoon of April 9 without telling anyone. She was found by police in the southwest suburb of McCook, according to Oak Park Police Cmdr. Len Jorgensen, who said the more-than-four-month disappearance is under investigation and wouldn’t give details. Jorgensen did say Demetria was fine, had not been held against her will, and that she didn’t want to come home.
Brown, a cafeteria worker at Oak Park and River Forest High School, has had custody of her granddaughter since Demetria was a child. Brenda Potts, Brown’s sister who also lives in Oak Park and is close to Demetria, accompanied Brown to the police station. They found Demetria in a striped beige and black shirt, jeans and red shoes – clothing that wasn’t hers. Brown said Demetria looked like she hadn’t bathed in some time.
“She likes clothes and being clean, and she didn’t call home; that’s unusual for her,” Brown said. Also unusual was the time that Demetria, who has disappeared before, was gone. “She would be gone for three or four days, but never this long,” Potts said in July.
Brown said social workers at the Oak Park police station told her Demetria had been abused. According to Brown, Demetria said the people she was with – a man and a woman – wouldn’t let her use the phone.
Demetria is now at Riveredge Hospital in Forest Park for observation, Brown said.
A senior at OPRF at the time of her disappearance, Demetria also was attending an alternative school in Des Plaines because of her disability.
Brown, whose goal is to get her granddaughter living on her own, plans to enroll Demetria back at OPRF.
“I told her, ‘I’m going to make sure you get your high school diploma,’ and get her in an apartment through an agency.”