CA CA - Victoria Cotton, 50, Goleta, 15 Jul 2006

Victoria Anne Cotton

Cotton, circa 2006

  • Missing Since 07/15/2006
  • Missing From Goleta, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 12/07/1955 (65)
  • Age 50 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'5 - 5'7, 115 - 145 pounds
  • Medical Conditions Cotton suffered from a near-fatal case of bacterial meningitis in 1986 and developed a brain abscess. She underwent several brain surgeries to correct the problem, but it left her disabled. She has significant problems with short-term memory as well as other cognitive issues, and she sometimes loses her balance while walking. Cotton's intelligence is not impaired and she is able to live independently, but she is considered to be at risk because of her condition.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Cotton's nickname is Vicky (sometimes spelled "Vickie"). She wears eyeglasses with plastic frames. She has a small mole on the upper left corner of her mouth and a scar on her hip from hip replacement surgery.
Details of Disappearance
Cotton was last seen in the morning hours of July 15, 2006. She left her residence on foot in the vicinity of the 7400 block of San Carpino Avenue in Goleta, California and boarded a bus en route to the Farmer's Market in Santa Barbara, California.

Witness reports are conflicted as to where exactly Cotton was last seen, but it may have been in downtown Goleta at Nectarine and Hollister, where she stopped at a 7-11 store to get a paper. She has never been heard from again.

Cotton has gone missing in the past, but she always returned within a day. She was carrying very little money with her when she disappeared in July 2006 and her loved ones do not believe she left of her own accord.

Cotton has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in mechanical engineering and has previously worked in a laboratory; her speciality was advanced infrared science. She was unable to return to her work after her meningitis episode in 1986.

She does not drive; she walks or utilizes public transportation instead. Cotton frequents community centers, markets, libraries and colleges in the Goleta and Santa Barbara areas. Her case remains unsolved.

Victoria Anne Cotton – The Charley Project

Missing Age 50 Years
Current Age 67 Years

First Name Victoria
Middle Name --
Last Name Cotton
Nickname/Alias Vicky
Sex Female
Race / Ethnicity White / Caucasian
Height 5'-5" - (65 - inches)
Weight 135 - lbs


Date of Last Contact
July 15, 2006
NamUs Case Created
December 12, 2008

Last Known Location (Map)
Goleta, California
Santa Barbara County

Circumstances of Disappearance
Victoria, also known as Vicky, was last seen in the morning hours leaving her residence on foot in the vicinity of the 7400 block of San Carpino Ave. in Goleta, CA. She may have been enroute via bus to the Farmer's Market in Santa Barbara, CA.

Physical Description​

Hair Color Blond/Strawberry
Head Hair Description Blonde, straight

Left Eye Color Blue
Right Eye Color Blue
Eye Description Blue

Distinctive Physical Features


Small mole above upper left corner of mouth, scar on hip.

Clothing and Accessories​

Glasses with plastic frames.
April 12, 2011

<<One of Santa Barbara County’s most high-profile missing person cases is that of Victoria Cotton. On July 15, 2006, Cotton left her home in Goleta to go to the farmers market or French Festival in downtown Santa Barbara. Some people close to the case say she was last seen at the 7-Eleven in downtown Goleta.

Cotton was well known in her community. She moved to the area from Monterey in the 1970s to study physics at UC Santa Barbara. After graduating, she accepted a job at the Santa Barbara Research Center and continued working toward a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Libby Patten, Cotton’s friend and officemate at Santa Barbara Research Center, said Cotton was a “very inclusive person who was upbeat and always had a smile on her face.”

“I was new to town, and she invited me to events and out on hikes,” Patten said. “She was a well-rounded person. ... She was a pilot. She had her own plane and her own home.”

Not long after they met, Patten recalled, Cotton left work one Friday saying she didn’t feel very well. Then she didn’t come in on Monday.

“It turned out she had a brain abscess, which is pretty much an infection of the brain,” Patten said.

Cotton was unable to receive timely treatment, and the infection ended up permanently damaging her short-term memory and impairing her judgement.

“A lot of people with that kind of condition might just stay at home, but she still always wanted to do things,” Patten said, adding that Cotton would sometimes forget to make sure she met her basic needs, like drinking water.

Friends and family aware of Cotton’s vulnerablities, including Patten and co-worker Steve Tighe, organized a search effort soon after her disappearance.

“Steve was very energetic and passionate about doing something, so he launched that website [], and we went walking where she used to walk. It’s one of those things where you’re hoping to see something, but you don’t really want to, but you want closure,” Patten said, adding that Cotton would often go walking for hours on her own.

Patten also noted that people close to Cotton expressed some frustrations to the Sheriff’s Department about the case not being taken seriously enough.

“There’d be times when she wouldn’t come home one night, and she’d show up the next day at a friend’s house,” she said. “I could see how that could have been the case at first, but after the third or fourth day, it was obvious [she was missing].”

Patten said she used to hope Cotton’s disappearance was a “memory issue” and that she was lost and didn’t have her ID with her. But if that was the case, Patten said, someone surely would have found Cotton by now.

“She made it for almost 20 years with her condition. It’s just heartbreaking. She was a great person,” Patten said. “Sometimes I just do these mental exercises where I see her getting on the bus, I see her getting off the bus and going into 7-Eleven. You think if you just keep imagining what she was doing, you can figure things out.”>>

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