A vendor whom authorities initially feared might have been abducted while packing up her tent at the Lakewood Farmers Market this week has been found safe.
And as it turns out, the woman’s disappearance was a fabrication and had nothing to do with her safety at the Farmers Market.
On Thursday night, the Department of Homeland Security notified the Lakewood Police Department that it had located Moua Vang, 31, on an inbound flight from Thailand to Seattle.
Detectives drove to Sea-Tac International Airport to wait for Vang’s flight to arrive. Once the plane landed, they confirmed that Vang was indeed a passenger.
Detectives interviewed Vang, a Kirkland resident who was first reported missing around 8 p.m., Tuesday, when a City of Lakewood employee noticed that Vang’s tent had not been put away, and her van’s doors were left open with keys and wallet inside.
On Thursday night, Vang admitted to detectives that she had staged her vehicle and tent to create the appearance of an abduction so she could leave without her family knowing. According to detectives, she took a shuttle from the Lakewood City Hall/Lakewood Towne Center area to the airport.
Vang then boarded her plane and flew to Thailand. However, once she arrived at her destination, she may have had second thoughts and decided to come home, according to detectives.
She boarded a flight back to Sea-Tac. Homeland Security then matched her name to a nationwide alert issued by the Lakewood Police Department.
Authorities notified her family, and after the interview, she was admitted to an area hospital for a physical and medical examination, given that she had been awake for several days and was under a tremendous amount of stress.
“She is in crisis,” Lt. John Unfred said. “In her mind, this was her only choice. It’s unfortunate that it came to this point. I think everyone, especially her family, is glad that she was found safe.”
Unfred added that although Vang’s disappearance began in Lakewood, reality proved that it had nothing to do with safety at the Lakewood Farmers Market or the Lakewood Towne Center, which statistically is one of the safest places in the community.
In fact, when word of her disappearance began to spread, Lakewood residents flooded police with tips, offers to canvas the area and other ways to help.
“This was a complete fabrication, but the community responded tremendously,” Unfred said. “This is a community that comes together during a crisis. When someone or something threatens our safety, we come together. It’s one of the reasons Lakewood is such a great community.”
The City of Lakewood would like to thank agencies that assisted with this investigation, including Homeland Security, Port of Seattle and Kirkland Police Department.
As for the Farmers Market, vendors and shoppers can enjoy the final market of the season 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Lakewood City Hall, 6000 Main Street SW.