A Fort Stewart soldier missing for two months was reportedly found hiding out in a Kingsland hotel.
Spc. Maria Cristina Cardona, 23, was located Tuesday morning about 88 miles south of Hinesville, Hinesville Police Det. Kyle Lairamore confirmed Wednesday. Kingsland is a city in Camden County, which borders the Georgia/Florida state line.
“Somebody checked her name through a (computer) system and found out she was a missing person and then they contacted us,” Lairamore said. “She was staying at an Econo Lodge hotel in Kingsland.”
The “somebody” who contacted Hinesville police was Econo Lodge Cumberland assistant manager Dave Sanders.
“It just seemed curious,” Sanders said. “She had been here quite a while and she didn’t leave her room. Her car tire was flat and it stayed parked in the parking lot.”
Sanders said at first he thought she might have been an author holed up to write a book.
“She seemed like a very nice lady. She paid her bill and stayed current,” he said.
Sanders said he was increasingly puzzled by Cardona’s odd behavior so he “Googled” her name on the Internet. He saw a news story about Cardona’s disappearance posted online by the Coastal Courier.
“And there was a picture of her; I recognized her,” Sanders said. So, he contacted Hinesville police.
“I hated to do it but once I had the information I really didn’t have any other choice. She’s such a nice young lady. It’s kind of a bittersweet thing,” he said. “They took her without any incident. She was very cooperative.”
“Once Spc. Cardona returns to military custody, her commander will conduct a preliminary inquiry into the suspected offense, and thereafter decide on the appropriate manner in which to dispose of the alleged offense,” Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said in an e-mail sent Tuesday evening. “The commander’s options range from no action to administrative action such as a reprimand to non-judicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or charging Spc. Cardona for a trial by court-martial.”
Cardona is assigned to the 135th Quartermaster Company, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and was declared AWOL on Nov. 9, 2010, according to Fort Stewart Public Affairs.