Woman Returns to Family Who Believed She Died 30 Years Ago

Mia Fitzharris

A mother of four in her mid-30s went missing in 1981. Her family, including 12 siblings, knew nothing of her whereabouts. After her brother drunkenly announced that she had died and was buried in the backyard, everyone came to believe him.

Fast-forward 30 years, and Betty Lukich, now 69, is alive and kicking. She was reunited with her family this week after connecting with cousins on MyHeritage.com.

So where was she all this time?

After a turbulent divorce and custody battle, Lukich escaped to Phoenix, Arizona. She told the Bangor Daily News, "I had to get away from it all." Lukich became a truck driver and drove through 48 states, never once running into her family.

"I thought she was dead," Donna Keniston, Lukich's daughter, now 50 years old, told the Bangor Daily News. "I was 12 the last time I saw her. I've been searching for her, but I never found her. My dad told us that our mother didn't want us."

When the family learned that Lukich was still alive, they were shocked. "We cried all day," said Mary Inman, Lukich's sister, now age 75.

Lukich's family reunion comes on the week of her 70th birthday. The family will catch up on lost time with a celebration of about 200 people. Lukich says she plans to eat lobster, scallops, and fiddleheads.

After she spends a month with family in Maine, Lukich plans to move to North Carolina to live with her daughter.