Winchester, Va. (CBS ATLANTA) — Roaming countryside roads and outside of small Appalachian towns, the mysterious “woman in black” may have finally reached her destination in Winchester, Va., after being spotted in numerous states and gathering a massive social media following for weeks.
Winchester Police say the “woman in black,” also known as Elizabeth Poles, 56, intends on staying in Virginia after being seen wandering in Georgia, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky and sparking tens of thousands of social media followers taking photos and creating rumors about the woman who told onlookers, “I wish people would mind their own business,” ABC News reports.[tweet https://twitter.com/jakehod92/status/494188434295373824 width=’330′]
Google mapping pins, Twitter hashtags, YouTube debates of the Bible and several Facebook pages popped up online to debate the purpose of the woman who walked more than 1,000 miles from Motts, Ala., with a walking cane and all-black clothing. Authorities in Tennessee received multiple “suspicious person” calls and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office first identified her as Poles, WYCB-TV reported.
Poles told police that she was from an Islamic nation and worked for the Pentagon, but those statements were debunked by investigators.
Capt. Dough Watson of the Winchester Police Department told ABC News that the station provided her with food and shelter after local deputies were seen walking alongside her on rural roads via Instagram and Facebook. Winchester authorities were first alerted of the mysterious woman when a crowd control call went out because “about 100 people” had gathered around to take photos and attempt to speak with Poles.
Winchester Police asked the public to respect the privacy of Poles on Tuesday after they were called to the 2400 block of Valley Avenue for the crowd control safety call.
She said she was “on a mission that has something to do with faith and religion,” Watson told ABC News. “She seemed to be in really good condition, I spoke with her and she was very articulate and very appreciative of our help.”
“She just said: ‘I wish people would mind their own business,’” added Watson.
Her brother, Raymond Poles, told Reuters that she was a 10-year U.S. Army veteran, widow and mother of two children.
“She said she wanted to move down here about four years ago,” Raymond Poles of Smiths Station, Ala., told ABC News. “So my wife and I went and picked her up. For the first few months, she was doing great.”
Poles explained that she had wandered off several times from his home.
“She was going to churches on Sundays and to her appointments at the nearby VA hospitals,” Poles told ABC News. “Then one Sunday, when my wife and I picked her up, she shaved her head. She was asking me, ‘Where can I buy those long black robes?’”
“I don’t want to call it a mental health problem. The VA calls her a disabled veteran,” Poles said, adding that she started going back to Virginia because that’s where she was raised by her father. “But there is something going on with her.”