SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — A 22-year-old art student who was the subject of an intense search throughout San Bernardino County says she tried to disappear because of challenges she faced with her college classes and wrecking her car.
In a statement released to CBS2/KCAL9 Thursday, Barber says she tossed her belongings over a wall because she never intended to be found.READ MORE: San Bernardino Investigators Say Loma Linda Sexual Predator May Have More Underage Victims That Have Not Yet Come Forward
“I know what I did was incredibly dumb and that I am only here by the grace of God. But I am not at all ashamed of what I did. I know that I did what I had to do, and went where I needed to be. Now I know I am back where I belong and I have a new appreciation for myself and for all of the amazing people that I have in my life. I have and am getting the help and support I need as I now work on getting my life back on track,” the end of Barber’s letter read.
Sahray Barber was reported missing March 9 by her roommates after she left home but never showed up at her job at the Art Institute’s campus library.
Ten days later, she contacted her father to say she was in a shelter in Los Angeles and was not being held against her will.
The San Bernardino Police Department released a video shortly before 10 a.m. outlining the details of the case.
Investigators say they encountered a number of problems during the search for Barber.
“In the case of the roommates . . . they had given us information throughout the course of the investigation that caused our detectives to question their honesty. So much so they were asked to take a polygraph exam, and the results of the polygraph exam had determined that the possibility that deceptiveness existed,” Chief Jarrod Burguan said.
Burguan said that, despite the misled information, there was evidence that led police to believe foul play was involved.
“We spent a great deal of resources on this case, which quite frankly we had to based upon the information we had,” he said.READ MORE: Drone Video: Great White Sharks Off California's Coast Are More Common Than You Think
According to Burguan, Barber told authorities she voluntarily left her apartment due to “some things that were going on in her life.”
She then made her way to Los Angeles and ended up in a hospital.
“It was at the hospital she failed to give her correct name; and therefore that eliminated the possibility that she was going to be tracked down that way,” Burguan said. “In addition, she saw herself on the news while she was in the hospital and knew that people were looking for her, and she still failed to come forward.”
From the hospital, Barber said she went to a shelter-type facility where employees eventually questioned her name and her story. Her real identity was revealed and San Bernardino police were contacted.
“I am happy to report that she is home and safe with her family, and ultimately that is a successful resolution to what was taking place here; however, as people have indicted, there’s been a lot of angst and a lot anger over the resources that were expended,” Burguan said. “It’s fair to say this investigation cost us tens of thousands of dollars.”
The preliminary overtime pay that has been calculated exceeded $20,000, he said.
“That does not factor on-duty time. It does not factor in resources such as the helicopter. It doesn’t factor in some of the investigative tactics that we used that cost extra money, nor does it factor in the overtime on the second part of the pay period that has not yet been calculated.”
Burguan said the department will be seeking charges for the false statements that misled investigators to the District Attorney’s Office in the next week.
“It’s quite possible the District Attorney could take a significant amount of time in making their determination on whether to file criminal charges,” he said.MORE NEWS: 'Just Not Fair': Gascón Drops Bid For Death Penalty In Killing Of 10-Year-Old Anthony Avalos
It will also be up to the DA’s Office to determine whether or not restitution will be sought.