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Missing College Student Dianne Thacher Found Safe

The 23-year-old woman turned up in her dorm room Tuesday afternoon after spending several days with a male acquaintance

Members of the Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team, assisted by a search dog, look for signs of Dianne Thacher, whose car was found nearby on Oct. 6, the day she disappeared while visiting the Santa Barbara area. She was found safe Tuesday afternoon.
Members of the Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team, assisted by a search dog, look for signs of Dianne Thacher, whose car was found nearby on Oct. 6, the day she disappeared while visiting the Santa Barbara area. She was found safe Tuesday afternoon. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)
Dianne Thacher, a college student from Nevada, had not been seeen since Oct. 6, when she left a motel during a visit to the Santa Barbara area. She was found safe in her college dorm room Tuesday afternoon.
Dianne Thacher, a college student from Nevada, had not been seeen since Oct. 6, when she left a motel during a visit to the Santa Barbara area. She was found safe in her college dorm room Tuesday afternoon. (Contributed)

A Nevada college student who disappeared last week while visiting the Santa Barbara area, setting off a major search for her whereabouts, has been found safe back at school, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Detectives had spent the day Tuesday combing phone records and social media posts — and interviewing family and friends — in their search for Dianne Thacher, 23, who attends Sierra Nevada College near Lake Tahoe.

She had last been seen Oct. 6 at a motel in the 6000 block of Hollister, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department.

Thacher, who was reported missing Sunday by her family, was found unharmed Tuesday afternoon in her dorm room, Hoover said.

Thacher’s 2000 Honda CRV, with Rhode Island license plates, was found abandoned, with a flat tire, on the 7600 block of Hollister Avenue in western Goleta on the day she disappeared.

"Thacher allegedly met a male acquaintance when her vehicle received a flat tire," Hoover said. "Her cell phone battery died shortly afterwards. Thacher reportedly stayed with the male acquaintance for several days.

"When she left to return home, he saw the media coverage indicating that she was a missing person and contacted the Sheriff’s Office."

In a story on the Eagle's Eye, the campus news website at Sierra Nevada College, Thacher was quoted as saying, “I was camping and exploring, and this started due to a family issue and did not need to be on the news.”

She also was quoted as saying, “I left the car because I was having tire trouble and didn’t want it anymore, as it belongs to my mom. That’s a complicated story.”

Thacher told the Eagle's Eye she was not aware of the extensive news coverage about her disappearance until she arrived back on campus.

“This has gotten so blown out of proportion,” she said, adding that “I’m sorry everyone was so worried and such. I am fine and was fine the whole time.”

Prior to her being located, the Sheriff's Department had reported that an emergency “ping” had been done on Thacher’s cell phone, which placed it some 5 to 10 miles west of Goleta, along the coast. The location is about 15 miles from where her car was found.

A county helicopter flew over that area several times looking for signs of the missing woman, Hoover said.

In addition, on Monday night, members of the sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team, assisted by a canine unit, searched the area where Thacher’s car was found.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada was assisting in the investigation.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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