Md. Woman With Rare Form of Amnesia Located

By Mila Mimica and Erica Jones
|  Thursday, Sep 5, 2013  |  Updated 9:42 PM EDT
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A woman who's missing from her home in Montgomery County has disappeared before and made national news because of a rare form of amnesia. News4's Chris Gordon has more on Hannah Upp's disappearance.

Chris Gordon

A woman who's missing from her home in Montgomery County has disappeared before and made national news because of a rare form of amnesia. News4's Chris Gordon has more on Hannah Upp's disappearance.

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Md. Woman With Rare Form of Amnesia Goes Missing Again

Police need your help locating a missing Maryland woman, but her case is not like most - Hannah Upp may not know who she is, and it's not the first time she's gone missing.
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A Maryland woman suffering from a rare form of amnesia -- the same disease that the fictional Jason Bourne suffered from in a series of blockbuster movies -- has been found. 

Hannah Upp, 28, was last seen just before 8 a.m. Tuesday near Kemp Mill Road and Glenallan Avenue in Maryland.

Montgomery County officials said Thursday Upp had found herself in the Wheaton-Glenmont, Md. area and had borrowed a stranger's phone to call her mother to pick her up. She told police she did not remember where she had been as of Monday afternoon. 

Upp's mother released the following statement:

Last night our beloved Hannah was located safe and sound and is at home. We are inexpressibly relieved and rejoicing. We are tremendously grateful for your thoughts and prayers and attentiveness during the time she was missing. We deeply appreciate all who assisted and communicated in helpful ways to the end of Hannah coming home safely, we thank the police for their excellent and responsive work, and we are humbled by community support from near and far. We ask that you give Hannah time and space now, to spend time with family and friends and to process these events. Thank you for respecting our precious privacy and boundaries in this time of recovery and healing.

Barbara Bellus, Hannah’s mother

Hannah Upp was last seen Tuesday morning around the time she should have been reporting to work, when a coworker saw her walking several miles from the Montessori school where she began a job as a teacher's assistant last week. She also lives on the grounds.

Upp's bag and personal belongings were later found on a footpath near Wheaton Plaza.

She was also reported missing in 2008 in New York City.

Then a 23-year-old Spanish teacher, Upp disappeared the day before school started while on a jog along Riverside Drive in late August, The New York Times reported. Her keys, wallet and ATM card were left behind at her Harlem apartment.

She was found nearly three weeks later, floating face down in the Hudson River by a Staten Island Ferry captain on Sept. 16. 

The Times said Upp, wearing just running shorts and a sports bra, was barely visible to the captain. She gasped for breath as she was lifted out of the water by two deckhands. Upp was hospitalized at the time with hypothermia and dehydration.

While it's not known where Upp slept or ate during the time she was missing in New York, police were able to piece together some of the places she visited, which included the thoroughfare she was last seen on and an Apple store.

Upp, who was also a graduate student at Pace University in 2008, even had a conversation with a fellow student. But when she was rescued, Upp had no recollection of the time she was missing.

"I went from going for a run to being in the ambulance," Upp told The Times in an interview several months later. "It was like 10 minutes had passed. But it was almost three weeks."

Upp reportedly suffers from dissociative fugue, a rare form of amnesia which causes her to forget her identity.

Few psychiatrists ever see patients with Upp's condition, which is "characterized in part by sudden and unexpected travel combined with an inability to recall one’s past..."

Dissociative fugue is so uncommon that one of its most famous sufferers is fictional.

Jason Bourne, a character created by author Robert Ludlum who was portrayed by actor Matt Damon in the most recent on camera incarnations, is a CIA assassin who experiences extreme memory loss. And like Bourne -- and perhaps Upp in this case -- sufferers only lose their identities, not the ability to perform everyday tasks.

"People have been known to not only travel across cities or countries, but also across continents," Dr. Philip Coons, who wrote a book about the disease, told The Times.

Detectives have met with Upp and say they will continue their investigation.

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