IT WAS a search for a missing woman that cost thousands of pounds and involved hundreds of hours of police work by Hampshire officers.
Gabriella Montanez’s face was plastered on billboards across Southampton and London and several public appeals were launched, including desperate pleas from her heartbroken parents and an emotional video appeal by her devastated sister.
But yesterday that search came to an end after ten long months, with the good news that the 26-year-old Mexican woman had been found safe and well in the capital.
The Daily Echo understands that Gabriella, who was last seen at her home in Shirley last year, does not want the exact details of where she was found or what she was doing to be revealed.
Police said they were 'satisfied' with Gabriella's explanation for her disappearance although they confirmed she did not want it made public.
DI Phil Scrase said: "This has involved a great deal of hard work and dedication from those officers involved and we are all delighted that she has been found.
"Ultimately she is an adult and wishes to keep her private life private but we are satisfied though from meeting and speaking with her that she is safe and well."
Officers were drafted into action last May, when she went missing from her family home in Atherley Road, following an argument with her mum and dad.
Desperate for news of their daughter’s whereabouts, Martin and Ester spoke to the Daily Echo about their heartache and their fears that she could be in serious danger, begging anyone with information to come forward.
At the time her mum Esther, 51, said: “I am desperate and sad.
“Every time I wake up, I am sad that Gaby is not here. I just want her to come back home.”
Detectives leading the search for Gabriella, known as Gaby, started by following up 12 different sightings of her across the south of England, including London, Havant and Southampton.
But despite that and a team of officers carrying out inquiries locally, including house to house calls in the immediate neighbourhood where Gaby lives, she couldn’t be found.
Concerns quickly grew as the pretty brunette, who suffers from bi-polar, had left without any money, no bank card and left her passport behind.
As the family had only lived in Shirley for seven months, having moved to the UK from their home in Mexico to enable Martin to study for a PhD at Southampton University, she had no known friends.
But yesterday Hampshire police confirmed that Gaby had been found “safe and well” on Friday in London and that after speaking with her, are content that she is OK.
It is not known if her parents have been told but after returning to Mexico last year, detectives remained in regular contact with the family as the search continued.
A spokesperson from Hampshire Constabulary added: “Officers would like to thank the media for their assistance since last May with trying to locate Gabriella and also for the public for their response.”