Hope kept alive for missing Temple Terrace woman
Police are drawing blanks trying to find a social service agency administrator missing since December. Friends have not forgotten her.
By REBECCA CATALANELLO
Published March 25, 2006
TEMPLE TERRACE - Sandra Prince never forgets birthdays.
That the missing woman didn't show for her own 60th birthday gathering Friday is just another punch in the gut for those who love and miss her.
Prince hasn't been seen since Dec. 30, when police say she last reported to the Agency for Community Treatment Services Inc., where she has worked as a social worker and administrator for more than three decades.
Friends came together to reflect on Prince on Friday afternoon at Cafe Don Jose. Manager Bill Engel said Prince ate there once or twice a week before she disappeared.
On Jan. 3, police found Prince's back door unlocked, her car parked in her garage, her cell phone left behind and her purse gone. There were no signs of struggle in her spacious Moffat Place home.
It was an unusual discovery about a single woman who was in frequent communication with her friends, colleagues and mother, who lives in North Carolina.
Almost two months ago, Temple Terrace police released a video showing a masked man attempting to withdraw funds from Prince's accounts in the days after she went missing.
Susan Horton, Prince's friend for more than 30 years, said she was certain the video's broadcast would bring needed answers and tips.
"We know that person has a mother, a wife, or a sister or a friend," Horton said Friday, pleading for anyone who recognizes the man to come forward.
But police have barely said a word about the case since they posted the images at www.templeterrace.com/police/case06-00030.htm on Feb. 1.
Maybe too few people were watching the news that night. Maybe the videos are too obscured. Whatever the case, Temple Terrace spokeswoman Paula MacDonald said, "We did not get a lot of calls on the ATM video."
So Horton, who last saw Prince on her own birthday in December, is left looking for ways to keep her friend's image in the news.
On Friday, she and her husband, Jerry, toted a poster board displaying years of photographs of Prince's birthday celebrations with her friends to the Spanish-themed restaurant, far from the couple's Venice home.
There was a picture from 1986, Prince's 40th, when the Hortons surprised her with a trip to New Orleans. There she is on the plane with a kid's party hat perched on her head. In another from 1991, Prince is staring over a birthday cake at 4-year-old Katie Horton, whose birthday is a day after Prince's.
Katie turns 19 today. This time, the two won't celebrate together.
Horton didn't know what to call Friday's get-together: "Birthday party? Birthday celebration?" she said. Neither sounded right. "Remembrance" didn't work - it's past tense: "It'll drive you crazy."
Kat Hanson, a friend who helped Prince decorate her home, handed out forget-me-not seeds to those who came.
Forgetting is not something Prince easily does, her friends say. She is a Hallmark card sender, a gift-giver, a thoughtful and funny friend who goes out of her way to say thank you and share kindnesses with others.
It's part of why her disappearance makes so little sense.
Anyone with information about Prince is asked to call Temple Terrace police at (813) 989-7117.
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at 813 226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org