PALO ALTO, Calif. - Last Friday morning shortly after 9 a.m., Wamaitha Kaboga-Miller pulled her silver Mercedes Benz out of the garage of her multi-million dollar gated home in Palo Alto’s upscale Crescent Park neighborhood.
Both her husband of 35 years and her adult son who lives with the couple were at work.
She was out of cigarettes.
She wore a black puffy vest over a white long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pajama bottoms.
The 66-year-old retired Apple engineering buyer drove about a mile from her home to the Country Time Market on University Avenue in East Palo Alto, parked her car and headed toward the store's entrance.
Surveillance video provided to her family from the market shows her shuffling along the pavement outside the bustling convenience store.
Kaboga-Miller had back surgery two months ago and it's evident she is wearing the bulky back brace under her clothing.
Inside the store, she walks around briefly before heading to the counter, where she spends about 15 minutes rifling through her purse and wallet, seemingly looking for something and seemingly confused.
The clerk finally helps her by pulling her debit card from her wallet and ringing up two packs of cigarettes for $19.
Outside the store, the surveillance camera picks her again, shuffling slowly toward her car.
The video then shows Kaboga-Miller drive east onto University Avenue toward the Dumbarton Bridge.
That was the last time she was seen by anyone.
Cameras at the Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza don’t show that she crossed the bridge, her son, Njoroge said.
“It’s a complete mystery,’’ said her son said. “ I just want to get to the bottom of it.”
Nearly a week after she was last seen, Palo Alto police continue to search for the missing woman, who, according to her son, has not used her debit card she since paid for the cigarettes. Her cell phone and the walker she uses to get around were both left at home, he said.
“She has never disappeared like this before, never,” he said. “She’s always at the home, technically she’s disabled.”
Her son said his mother takes oxycodone and other medications following her recent back surgery. She has also had two hip replacement surgeries and shoulder surgery, he said.
Still, she was a happy woman who talked about wanting grandchildren, spent time gardening and volunteered helping elderly people and the homeless, he said.
“She loved life, ‘’ he said. “We had a great relationship. We always did family dinners on Sundays. We were always together. We are a tight-knit group of family members who loved each other.”
Police have not categorized her disappearance as suspicious. They say she is considered “at risk” because she takes prescription drugs for her medical conditions.
They are asking anyone with information about her whereabouts to contact investigators immediately.
Anyone interested in helping look for Kaboga-Miller on Saturday should meet at 9 a.m. at the East Palo Alto Family YMCA, 550 Bell St. Searchers plan to canvass the Baylands near the Dumbarton Bridge and the Palo Alto Marsh for the woman or her car, a silver 2002 Mercedes Benz with a California license plate of DP241LU.
Kaboga-Miller is five foot one inches tall and weighs about 120 lbs. The Kenyan immigrant has black hair and brown eyes.