Missing deaf, mute St. Lucian found

Samantha Primus.
Samantha Primus. Photo courtesy Primus Family/Sophia Primus
Samantha Primus.

The Consulate General of St. Lucia in New York says it is “thrilled to report” that St. Lucian national Samantha Denise Primus, who had been missing for just over three weeks, was found safe on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Primus, 46, a Brooklyn resident – who is deaf, mute and autistic – disappeared on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, from her sister’s house in Elmont, Long Is., where she was spending the Christmas holidays.

The Primus family said that she was discovered riding the no. 1 train in Lower Manhattan, and was subsequently taken to the New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital for a medical check-up.

“The Consulate General wishes to extend sincere appreciation to the St. Lucian community in New York for the unwavering support provided to the Primus family during their time of distress,” the statement said.

Sophia Primus had told Caribbean Life that her sister was spending a few days over the holidays with another sister, Joanna Peck, in Elmont, when she disappeared.

Sophia said that, on Dec. 23, 2022, Joanna returned from her night shift work only to find that Samantha was not there.

She called the police to file a missing person report after checking the house and asking other persons in the home for the whereabouts of Samantha.

Camera footage revealed that Samantha left the house about 3:30 a.m. in the cold weather, Sophia said.

She said the family began a search in Long Island and its environs in Queens with no success.

On Thursday, Dec. 29, Sophia said the family received news from the  Nassau County Police Department that Samantha was found on 190th Street and Hillside Avenue in Queens on Friday, Dec. 23 at about 8:00 p.m., 3.5 miles away from the home in Belmont, Long Is.

Sophia said Samantha was brought in by medics from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) to the Queens Hospital Medical Center.

“The police conveyed information from the hospital that Samantha was discharged on Saturday, Dec. 24, at about 2:00 a.m., after being found fit to leave,” Sophia said.

“As per the verbal report from the police, she was given a list of homeless shelters to follow up with,” she added.

On receiving that information, Sophia said the family visited the hospital for more information and for support to find Samantha.

After hours of waiting and seeking information, Sophia said “the family was told that it looks like the Samantha Primus that was attended to that night of Dec. 23 was not the same missing person.

“The authorities at the hospital came to that conclusion that it was a case of mistaken identity,” she said. “That conclusion was drawn on the basis of the date of birth that the family gave to the hospital.

“So, the family insisted that, if the hospital feels that it was a case of mistaken identity, then they should retract the report that they gave to the Nassau Police County,” Sophia added. “They did not.

“So, this is a situation of lost, found and lost again,” she continued.

Sophia said the family has received support from friends and neighbors in disseminating flyers and doing extensive searches in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.

She said the family did receive a call of a sighting of Samantha on Nostrand in Brooklyn, dressed in red track suit and accompanied by an elderly lady.

She said the family has “a difficult time accepting this situation at the hospital” because of the following facts about Samantha.

Sophia said Samantha is able to only write her name; she is “deaf, mute and on the autism spectrum; and does not know her date of birth.”

“So, if, in fact, she did write a date of birth, it was most likely incorrect,” Sophia said. “Therefore, if they did collect DOB (Date of Birth) information from Denise, it would, of course, not be right,” Sophia said.

In addition, she said Samantha has limited communication ability, and that her sign language is not in keeping with the American sign language practice; she uses her own signs to communicate.

“After interacting with Samantha for any period of time, it becomes quite clear that she has very limited communication ability – that she is deaf and mute,” Sophia said. “She makes sounds and uses her hands to communicate.

“Samantha was discharged on Christmas Eve in the 7 (Fahrenheit) degree cold,” she added. “The police confirmed that they did not receive a call from the hospital.”

Additionally, Sophia said Samantha, who was not wearing her eye glasses, is “docile and is mentally delayed, and would most likely not ask for help.”

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