By Brendan O'Brien
(Reuters) - A woman dressed in all black who has been spotted strolling along highways in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest needed police assistance after she was surrounded by a group of about 50 curious people in Virginia, authorities said on Wednesday.
Police in Winchester, Virginia took the person who wears flowing robes and has been dubbed the "Woman in Black" on social media to an undisclosed location and fed her after the incident on Tuesday evening, police said in a statement.
"She has expressed to officers that she wants to be left alone and is asking that the public respect her wishes," said the Winchester Police Department, adding that she intends to stay in the community.
Police did not release her name but she is thought to be Elizabeth Poles, 56, who used to live in Georgia and is originally from Alabama.
The woman has garnered attention in recent weeks from TV stations, police and 51,000 followers on a Facebook page on which she has been tracked walking with a black bag and stick in hand on a nearly 850-mile (1,400-km) journey from Ranger, Georgia, to Winchester.
Poles is a U.S. Army veteran, mother of two children and a widow from Motts, Alabama, who had been receiving treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals to deal with the deaths of her husband in 2008 and her father in 2009, her brother Raymond said on Friday.
According to her brother, Poles recently began to wander for months at a time.
(This story has been refiled to fix date in dateline)
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Will Dunham)