English instructor missing and ‘at risk’

(Photo courtesy of Sheriff’s department)

Cassie Rossel

Find the updated story at http://www.lariatnews.com/news/missing-english-instructor-found-in-south-central-los-angeles-1.2670656#.TsGgEGWJ3EM

An English instructor at Saddleback College has been declared a missing person by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Amy Ahearn, a part-time instructor at Saddleback went missing on Aug. 22, the first day of the Fall 2011 semester. She was a no-show to every class she was assigned to teach for the semester.

Ahearn is a resident of Lake Forest and has no family members who live in California. She has also recently gone through a divorce.

The instructor was reportedly last seen in Norwalk on Sep. 9 while seeking an attorney to represent her in a case against the Orange County police, according to an article in the Orange County Register.

It is suspected that the past months’ events are due to a rare genetic disease known as Huntington’s Disease. Ahearn’s mother had Huntington’s, and it is likely that Ahearn may have inherited the gene.

According to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Huntington’s is an incurable brain disorder which diminishes the victim’s abilities to walk, speak, and reason. Early symptoms of the disease may affect cognitive ability or mobility.

Individuals that carry the gene will most likely develop Huntington’s between the ages of 30 and 50. Ahearn is 40 years old, which puts her in the exact age demographic of the disease.

According to Ahearn’s sister, Margie, the instructor showed signs of the disease, mostly paranoia, in 2007.

The instructor’s students also noticed that something was different about the instructor, and some took to RateMyProfessor.com to voice their reservations about Ahearn.

One post from January 2010 said, “All papers are very restricted to topics that all pertain to torture or cults. In the first session you are given a 13-page syllabus that explains you should not be overly nice to her as this is sexual harassment and the final was an essay about rape.”

Former student of Ahearn, Dorothy Friedlander, said, “As an educator she [Ahearn] was phenomenal, but to me it seemed very evident that something had happened to her and that she seemed very distant. The only time she really engaged with her students was when it was on a topic about the literature we were reading.”

There are no leads as to the current whereabouts of Ahearn.

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