Missing woman found wandering national forest in San Jacinto Co.

After three long days and nights in the Sam Houston National Forest in north San Jacinto County, a 39-year-old woman is now safe and in the care of her family.

According to Capt. Joe Schultea, spokesperson for the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, Jessica Sanders disappeared Thursday afternoon when she was last seen leaving her vehicle in the 2300 block of Hines Lake Road and walking into the woods.

Authorities were notified on May 18 after Sanders failed to turn up.

“Once deputies received the report from the father, the female was entered into the Missing Persons Database and an investigation began,” Schultea said. “During the investigation, information was received that the female was possibly in a heavily-wooded area of the national forest just east of the San Jacinto River.”

The case was deemed to be urgent due to no information on the woman’s welfare, the nature of the location, recent heavy rain and the current high temperatures in the area, he added.

At daybreak on Sunday, Sheriff Greg Capers and deputies led a search of the woods on their personal ATVs. After finding the missing woman’s tracks, Capers called in his Mounted Posse Unit to assist.

“The heat, the high density of the woods and heavy mud slowed the search, which took most of the day Sunday,” Schultea said. “The search shadowed the San Jacinto River and the woods near the river. Local landowners also assisted in the search.”

At around 5:17 p.m., as deputies were exiting the woods to check another wooded area, a call was received by the sheriff’s dispatch that a woman had been found staggering from the woods between County Road 4689 and County Road 4486, close to FM 945. Two citizens – Terry Lowe and Johnny Smith – found the woman and reported her location to authorities.

Deputies took Sanders to the sheriff’s office where EMS treated and released her to her father.

“Ms. Sanders stated she had tried to ‘walk home through the woods’ and got lost when she lost her cell phone. She stated she got scared and walked around the woods for about three days without food or water,” Schultea said.

Sheriff Capers thanks the personnel of his office and all the citizens who offered their support and assistance in the successful search.

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