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After days of searching in Downey, woman finds her missing father

January 14, 2012 |  1:55 pm

The search is over.

Kiersten Carlin, 32, a woman from Tustin who has been looking for her missing father in the city of Downey over the last few days, has found him.

Larry Everett Starks, 69, a retired San Diego County sheriff's deputy who went missing in Florida several years ago after falling off his medication for schizophrenia and being evicted from his apartment, was found by Los Angeles police officers Saturday afternoon, according to Sgt. Dan Samano of the Downey Police Department.

"He was found safe and was taken to a local hospital," Samano said.

"I found my dad at a hospital!" Carlin wrote twice in a text message around noon.

She could not be reached for further comment.

After he went missing in Florida, Starks' sister filed a missing person report on Dec. 15, 2007, with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Carlin said she had no clue to the whereabouts of her father until Jan. 5, when he turned up in front of Frantone's Pizza and Spaghetti Villa near Telegraph Road and Serapis Avenue in Downey, according to police.

Carlin said restaurant staff fed him before they called police.

Officers called paramedics, who then took him to Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center, authorities said.

Starks told nurses and police that he was a retired deputy looking for his daughter in the area but did not have contact information, Carlin said.

The hospital staff confirmed with San Diego authorities that Starks was indeed a retired deputy, she said.

Melissa Aquino, a spokeswoman with San Diego County Sheriff's Department, said an emergency room staff member and a social worker were told by a deputy to call the San Diego County Employees Retirement Assn., or SDCERA.

"It was through SDCERA that they were able to confirm that Mr. Starks was a retired sheriff's deputy," Aquino said in an email.

However, hospital officials released Starks on Jan. 6 because they couldn't legally detain him.

Aquino said it was through the county agency that they were also able to notify his daughter because she was listed as his emergency contact.

Carlin said that notification went to her brother, who then informed her about the Downey incident  Monday. Since then she has been searching for her father in and around the Downey area.

But the search could have ended sooner.

San Diego County authorities turned over the missing person case 10 days after it was reported by Starks' sister to their homicide unit, which then turned it over to the Tampa Police Department in Florida.

On Jan. 8, 2008, Starks was removed from a California database of missing persons, Aquino said.

She said that according to the guidelines of the California Department of Justice, the investigating agency is the missing person's last known address. "We can only investigate cases or look for missing persons within our jurisdiction," she said. "That goes for any law enforcement agency in the country."

Carlin said she was unaware that her father had been removed from the database.

Last year, more than 32,000 people with a physical or mental disability were reported missing, according to the FBI's National Crime Information Center's Missing Person File. There are 85,820 active missing person records, according to the department.

But on Saturday, one those people was found.

-- Ruben Vives