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Police are working to piece together how a woman, who went missing in July, ended up naked on a remote road in rural Alabama on Saturday after surviving for a month on berries and muddy water.
Judy Garner was driving along Highway 82 in Bullock County when she first spotted Lisa Theris, whom she initially mistook for a deer.
After realizing what she was actually looking at, Garner pulled over.
“I started shaking. I was crying, I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do,” Garner said. “So I went over to her and asked her if she would stay there while I get water out of my van. She stayed, and I called 911 and told them I had found a girl on the road.”
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Theris — a 25-year-old woman from Louisville, Alabama, who had been missing since July 18 — was naked and covered in a rash of bug bites and scratch marks. Her dark hair had become matted, and dirt had embedded deep beneath her nails.
“She said she ate berries and drank muddy water,” Garner said. “I gave her a hug and said, 'You poor thing. You’ve been through a lot.'”
Theris was lethargic, and begged Garner not to leave her side.
“I don’t think she could have made it much longer,” Garner said.
Chief Anthony Williams, of the Bullock County Sheriff's Department, was one of the first law enforcement officers to arrive on scene.
“That’s my first time ever witnessing someone in that condition,” Williams said.
An ambulance transported Theris to a nearby hospital where she has since been released to return to her family’s home in Louisville. Williams said none of Theris' injuries were severe.
Theris' brother Will wrote on Facebook, along with a picture of his sister in the hospital: "28 days stranded out in the wilderness and Lisa is still standing, strongest person i know." In another post he wrote that having his sister home felt "like a dream."
Police said the details of how Theris ended up in her condition are still fuzzy, but two suspects who were arrested on burglary and theft charges are believed to be tied to Theris' disappearance.
Manley Davis and Randall Oswald, who were arrested approximately two weeks after Theris disappeared, told authorities they were driving to rob a hunting camp with Theris in their vehicle, police said.
However, when Theris learned of their intent to steal from the camp, she said she wanted nothing to do with the burglary and jumped out of the car, they allegedly told authorities, claiming they have not seen her since.
Police said they were not sure if Theris had a criminal record. They said they plan to ask her more questions later Tuesday.
“We’re giving her some time to let her body adjust back to normal,” Williams said. “And maybe she could give us some insight and fill in the blank spaces.”
It’s still unclear how Theris physically survived her nearly monthlong ordeal, but Williams said her will to live was rooted in her love for her family.
“When I asked about what she ate, she had broke down and started crying, but she said the main thing that kept her alive was her family,” Williams said. “Her mother and her father, she said. That really gave her the will to live. She survived thinking about them.”