Found: Missing Elderly NJ Couple Found Safe, Sound After Journey

UPDATE: A missing elderly couple took a long route to return to Bergen County, but they were found safe and sound Saturday morning, authorities said.

Lea Asala, Anthony Asala

Lea Asala, Anthony Asala


Teaneck police responding to a call of a vehicle stuck in the mud behind the Teaneck Garden Club near Overpeck Park found Lea Asala, 89, outside their SUV and her husband, Anthony Asala, 91, inside around 9 a.m. Saturday.

Lea Asala was without shoes and her husband was a bit confused as he searched for the vehicle's paperwork, but they were otherwise OK.

Both were taken to Holy Name Medical Center for precautionary reasons, Little Ferry Police Chief James Walters said.

The discovery ended nearly a day of worry.

Their daughter -- who either calls or visits her parents at least twice a day -- said she spoke by phone with the Asalas around 5 p.m. Thursday, then went by the house at noontime Friday.

They and their 1997 four-door Chevy Blazer Blazer were both gone, Walters said.

They’d also left their cellphone behind, the chief added.

The couple weren’t the types to just take off, family members said. Lea Asala suffers from dementia and her husband apparently hadn’t driven in over a year.

Police searched in and around the couple's Milo Court home. 

They spread the word among area law enforcement, checked hospitals and airports and hoped for the best.

They also spoke with their upstairs tenant, who said she was on the phone when she heard sounds from the garage early Friday indicating to her that they were going somewhere.

An electronic license plate reader at the George Washington Bridge identified the vehicle shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, Walters said.

Another reader spotted the SUV a few minutes later on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge headed east on the Cross Bronx Expressway over the Harlem River.

Then came a reading, at 4:31 p.m., on the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Orangetown.

That was the last hint they had until Saturday morning.

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