Search under way for Terra Linda HS teacher

January 26, 2011 4:51:30 PM PST
The Ross Police Department is investigating the disappearance of a Terra Linda High School teacher on Thursday.

San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said this morning that the school's assistant principal Justin Mori informed San Rafael police at about 9:45 a.m. Thursday that 53-year-old Debra Schmitt, of Ross, failed to show up for class Thursday.

The words "Thank you everyone" were written on a blackboard in Schmitt's classroom, and Schmitt's keys to the school were found in the classroom, Rohrbacher said.

San Rafael police initially handled the missing person's report because the high school is in San Rafael, but turned the case over to Ross police because Schmitt lives in that town, Rohrbacher said.

Someone spoke with Schmitt in Ross the previous day, on Jan. 19, Rohrbacher said.

Ross police Sgt. Gianfranco Campa said police are searching trails in the Phoenix Lake area with dogs today for Schmitt, who enjoys hiking.

Schmitt may be in need of prescription medication, Campa said. Police do not suspect foul play and do not believe Schmitt is suicidal, Campa said.

Schmitt is married and has a son, and she left her Toyota, purse and identification papers at her home, Campa said.

Campa said no cab drivers in the area reported picking up Schmitt. Schmitt is Caucasian, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 120 pounds and has hazel eyes and brown hair, police said.

Several people have posted messages on the Debra Schmitt Fan Club page on Facebook since Monday expressing concern about her welfare and asking the popular English teacher to return.

One person who called Schmitt "Aunt Debbie" asked her to come to New Jersey "where you have family who will always love you no matter what."