06-24-2010, 02:37 PM #1
HI - Honolulu, LIVING 'Josie May', dementia, Jun'10 - Ethel Helmbright
"Josie May" has been homeless on the streets of Honolulu for the last 10 years. She was recently hospitalized with health issues and was discharged into foster care-she has a guardian and the state is trying to figure out who she is. She speaks with a New Zealand accent and is familiar with landmarks in New Zealand. She is suffering from dementia.
She is 5'5" tall, fragile build and long gray hair.
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07-31-2011, 12:39 PM #2The New Zealand Consul in Los Angeles is also working with Honolulu authorities to establish Josie May's identity and to get her home as quickly as possible.
The family are convinced that Josie May is Ethel and she belongs to a large and widespread family and is the only survivor of her generation.
She had left for Alaska 20 years ago and as her generation passed away, contact was lost.
Family members recognised the woman, believed to be about 80, in media reports, and Interpol was working to establish that the woman known as Josie May in Hawaii was actually former nurse Ethel Helmbright.
Niece Colleen Helmbright of Opotiki said the family was “100 per cent sure” the woman they first saw in a television news item was from their whanau.
Ms Helmbright knew her auntie as a “free-spirited” person who moved to Alaska about 20 years ago, just a few weeks after a family reunion.
The family did not hear from her for years, and assumed she had “frozen in the ice in Alaska”, or simply passed away like her brothers and sisters.
But when they saw her picture in media reports, they knew her immediately.
“We can see our grandmother and fathers in her face.”
The state public guardian appointed in Honolulu to act for Ethel has told the family that DNA testing and possibly fingerprint testing would be needed to confirm her identity.
"We haven't heard anything yet about her DNA testing. We are just waiting and it is frustrating," Ms Helmbright said.
She said the situation was further complicated as Ethel may have a daughter in Christchurch who the family has had no contact with and has never met.
A court will decide this month on the fate of Hawaii's elderly homeless woman "Josie May", who turned out to be a lost but treasured kuia from New Zealand.
Hawaii Family Court is likely to confirm the identity of Ethel Helmbright, 83, and hand guardianship to her Melissa, her 50-year-old daughter in Christchurch.
Ethel May Helmbright, the homeless woman at the center of a mysterious "Jane Doe" case in Hono-lulu, may play a key role in her estranged family's land disputes in New Zealand.
Helmbright, 83, had been a homeless fixture in Waikiki for a decade until she was hospitalized last year, suffering from dementia and unable to give her name.
Her large Maori family in New Zealand says she is the last granddaughter of a Maori chief who signed the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, considered the founding document of New Zealand nationhood.
So once Family Court custody proceedings wrap up in Hawaii, Helmbright's re-emergence in New Zealand could provide a vital piece of her family's right to land around an area called the Bay of Plenty.
Last edited by Donjeta; 07-31-2011 at 12:54 PM.
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