updated 6/5/2005 3:48:44 PM ET 2005-06-05T19:48:44

A Texas A&M University student who had been feared murdered after disappearing nearly seven years ago has been found alive and working in Kentucky, according to authorities.

Brandi Stahr went missing in October 1998, and police spent hours searching for her body in wooded areas. They questioned a serial rapist and murderer about her just hours before he was executed last year.

But a telephone tip led investigators to Florence, Ky., where Stahr has been working for the last five years at a Sam’s Club, said Texas Ranger Frank Malinak.

“We thought we were dealing with a missing persons case,” Malinak said. “But, in actuality, we were dealing with a person who did not want to be found and was in hiding.”

Family troubles
Stahr, 27, hid from her family after she and her mother, Ann Dickenson, got into an argument over bad grades she received during her sophomore year and her family stopped paying for school.

For the last five years, Stahr worked under her real name, using her Social Security number. But police said they were unable to locate her that way because they don’t have access to IRS records.

Dickenson and Stahr haven’t reunited yet, but have talked on the phone. Stahr told her sister the family should not bother visiting, but her mother said nothing will stop her.

“We’re going. I’m going. Even if I have to sit out in a (Sam’s Club) parking lot to see her,” Dickenson said.

Although Stahr committed no crime in her disappearance, investigators spent a lot of money and time looking for her, Malinak said.

“The responsible thing to do would have been to let someone know you’re OK,” Malinak said. “There are going to be people expending man-hours and effort, trying to find a missing person.”

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