In 2008, 23 year old Hannah Upp was a Spanish teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem, New York. Shortly before school started, she disappeared after leaving her apartment to go for a run.
Police were concerned that Hannah had been murdered until they received a call saying she had been spotted at an Apple Store. Cameras caught her, dressed for a run, checking her email. Someone in the store asked her if she was the girl he had seen on TV who was missing. Hannah blew him off.
Hannah’s mother was called by police to view the security footage and instantly knew that it was Hannah.
Reports started coming in from several New York Sports Clubs. Members said that a woman who called herself Hannah was showering there.
20 days after she disappeared, Hannah was found floating face down by a ferryman near the Statue of Liberty.
She was taken to the hospital and treated for dehydration and a bad sunburn. She told her roommate that she was eager to be released because she needed to set up her classroom in time for the studentS to return to school. He was surprised to find that she did not realize that she had been missing for almost 3 weeks. She later said in an interview, that she felt like just 10 minutes had past.
By 2012, Hanna was living in Maryland. Just before school was to start that year, Hannah disappeared again. She was located in a creek in a residential area 2 days later.
Hannah seemed to have no memory of what she had done or where she had been while she was missing.
Doctors diagnosed her with dissociative fugue. This rare disorder is related to what is commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder.
Those that suffer from this condition often wander when in their fugue state. To those who see them, it appears as though they are fleeing. In fact, the word fugue comes from a Latin word that means to flee.
Dissociative fugue is often associated with severe trauma, but there didn’t seem to be such an event in Hannah’s past.
She grew up the daughter of two ministers. Though her parents divorced when she was in her teens, she maintained a relationship with both parents and seemed well-adjusted. She was a wonderful teacher who got along with others and loved her job.
There was some tension between Hannah and her father about her sexuality, but she still went to visit him regularly and they seemed to get along well.
In 2013, Hannah took a position teaching kindergarten at a Montessori school on St. Thomas. She was living her dream life.
Shortly before school was scheduled to start in 2017, a category 5 hurricane, Irma, struck the island.
Residents were told that another, equally as powerful, hurricane was headed for the island.
Before the second hurricane struck, people started fleeing the island, but Hannah refused. She went to visit an ex-boyfriend who was boarding a mercy ship.
Shortly after, Hannah went missing again. She was last seen leaving her apartment to take a swim.
Her car, with her purse and phone inside, was found at Sapphire Beach. Her clothes and shoes were found at the water’s edge.
Searches began, but were called off after only three days when Hurricane Maria struck.
Hannah was a strong swimmer and it is believed that she could have survived in the water for several days. Searchers believed that if she had drowned, her body would have floated back to the island.
It is possible that she could have boarded a mercy ship. During the evacuation, people were allowed to board without a passport. She could have ended up in a Spanish speaking country (she was fluent), still not knowing who she is.
Hannah’s mother, Barbara, has since moved to St. Thomas. There, she drives Hannah’s car around the island looking for people that might have seen her.
Police once called her to a run-down building where they had apprehended a woman they thought was Hannah. Barbara quickly realized that it wasn’t. The woman was sympathetic to Barbara’s situation and apologized that she wasn’t Hannah.
Hannah’s missing person case is still active.
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at