No foul play in disappearance on Washington ferry

SEATTLE, Wash. -  A Washington State Patrol investigation found no indication of a crime in the disappearance of a 45-year-old Bellevue woman from a state ferry.

The patrol says detectives interviewed witnesses who identified Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz as a passenger on a Jan. 13 run between Seattle and Bainbridge Island. Detectives found no evidence she got off. The ferry crew found her van abandoned. Her purse and keys were found on an upper deck.

The patrol said Friday she is still listed as a missing person. Stafford-Yilmaz taught English as a second language and adult basic education at Bellevue Community College. Her husband told her co-workers and friends she left a note indicating she had decided to end her life.

Previous Coverage

Mother and noted author missing from Seattle ferry

(1/15/2009) The Washington State Patrol is asking for the public's help in locating a Bellevue woman who disappeared from a Washington State Ferry on the Seattle to Bainbridge Island run Tuesday night.

Lynn Stafford-Vilmaz disappeared after apparently boarding the Bainbridge-bound ferry at about 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Her Ford family minivan was left abandoned on the car deck, and authorities say her purse, keys and a cup of coffee were found on an upper deck.

"That leads us to believe there are possibilities that she could have fallen overboard, or, you know. It's under investigation," said Kelly Quinn of the State Patrol.

Stafford-Vilmaz, 45, is a mother of two elementary school-aged children, a teacher of English as a second language at Bellevue Community College and a noted author on the subject.

She has co-authored at least 10 books.

Neighbors describe Stafford-Vilmaz as a dedicated mother, not the type to be involved with anything dangerous.

"On a Wednesday to have all that happen that seems really weird because of school and the regular schedules that they keep. That's why my mind goes to something awful," said neighbor Anne Healey.

Friends of the Staffords say the family does have property on Bainbridge Island and perhaps she was headed there.

Investigators say the woman's husband was home with the kids Tuesday night and is not a suspect in the case.

"I don't have an explanation. It feels awful," said Healey.

Ferry officials say they are looking through surveillance video on board the ferry to see if that gives them any clues.

Detectives said there was no sign of a struggle on board and there was no suicide note.


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