Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected
LAist needs your help: Why we're asking everyone who values our journalism to donate today

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Video: Police Angry They Wasted Thousands Searching For A Girl Who Wasn't Missing

We need to hear from you.
Today during our spring member drive, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

San Bernardino Police released a video today explaining why the department spent tens of thousands of dollars searching for a college student who wasn't actually missing.

Sahray Barber, a 22-year-old graphic design student at the Art Institute of California, mysteriously disappeared on March 9 after leaving her apartment near Cal State San Bernardino, only to reappear 10 days later, unharmed. Her roommates reported her missing after passersby found Barber's laptop and phone in the bushes outside the apartment and gave it to the building manager. It didn't appear that there were any signs of a struggle. There was some concern that Barber's disappearance was related to two recent assaults on female CSUSB students.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in the nearly 11-minute YouTube video that when Barber reappeared, she told authorities that she voluntarily left her apartment because of "some things that were going on with her life." When she first disappeared, she made her way to a hospital in Los Angeles. “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."

It wasn't until Barber went to a shelter that employees questioned her about her name and story, Burguan explained. When they found out her real identity, they contacted her family and they were reunited.

Support for LAist comes from

Burguan added that they believed Barber's roommates misled them to believe Barber had been harmed, so much so that they had them take a polygraph test. The results "had determined that the possibility that deceptiveness existed," he said.

At the time, investigators served a search warrant for Barber's apartment and found items that her roommates said she would never leave home without. He said authorities were led to believe there was foul play throughout the investigation.

While he stressed that the department was happy that Barber is safe and sound with her family now, he said due to the high costs of searching for Barber, "I think the public deserves an explanation to understand why we did what we did," mentioning that some people were feeling "angst and anger" over the situation.

He didn't give an exact figure, but said the first part of the investigation already cost more than $24,000, and that doesn't even factor in on-duty time, the use of helicopters, special investigative techniques and overtime pay in the second part of the investigation.

Burguan said the department will be seeking charges for the false statements given to the investigators—though he didn't give any names—and are looking to file the case with the district attorney's office in the next week or two to see if seeking criminal charges and restitution are appropriate.

Here's the video:

[h/t: CBS Los Angeles]

Most Read