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Missing Grass Valley Woman Kept Diary Of Days Leading Up To Death

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) — Deputies say an elderly woman found dead in her SUV in the wilderness kept a journal of her final days.

She’s been tentatively identified as a missing Grass Valley senior Wilma Barnhart.

Friends say Wilma didn’t own a cellphone, and even if she did, there’s no service where she was found.

A motorcyclist spotted her SUV six miles down a rural Nevada County. Her SUV was high-centered on a log, meaning she couldn’t drive out, and deputies say she didn’t have any food or water.

For weeks, they poured their hearts and souls into the search for beloved Grass Valley senior Wilma Barnhart.

Her SUV was found in a place nobody would have thought to look—a rarely used road miles outside of town.

The Nevada County Sheriff says all indications are the body inside the vehicle is that of the missing 74-year-old. There’s no sign of foul play.

It’s not clear how long Wilma survived. Police conducted multiple searches from the air, but say Wilma’s SUV was in such a heavily wooded area, there was no way to spot it.

“She definitely deserves so much better. She was the light of this bowling alley,” said friend  Brenda Shafer.

Friends think Wilma may have gone to visit a campground, where she and her late husband Bud used to camp. Their anniversary was July 10, just a few days after Wilma vanished.

“Maybe she wanted to go up there and reminisce and took a wrong road.”

If there’s an answer, it may be found in a journal. Deputies say Wilma kept while stranded.

The last words of a dying woman, loved by so many, alone in the wilderness in her final moments. For now, investigators won’t say what’s in it.

So what Wilma wrote, much like the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and tragic end remains a mystery. Someday, friends hope to read whatever message she left behind.

“I would just like, I think, to find some peace. That she had found peace with where she was at.”

For now, wiping away tears. One final salute from those who dearly loved a lady with a heart of gold.

“All of us together, yell, ‘Yippee,’ for Wilma.”

Wilma’s signature triumphant yell when someone bowled a strike.

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