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TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2007

Missing wife of Alabama minister found in New York

BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — An Alabama minister's wife who disappeared from a women's religious conference held in this North Louisiana city earlier this year has been found unharmed in New York state, police said Monday.

Mary Byrne Smith, 30, of Summerdale pawned her wedding ring the day she was reported missing, walked to the Greyhound bus station in downtown Shreveport, which is next to Bossier City, and asked how far the money would get her and was told New York, police said.

Police said that from the beginning they had no reason to believe Smith, married and the mother of two, was the victim of foul play. She does not face criminal charges.

Bossier City Police Chief Mike Halphen said Smith was working at a fast-food restaurant in New York state.

She asked that her exact location be kept secret, police said. Police said she promised to talk to her family in Alabama.

"She decided she wanted to be a different person in a different place. She had her own personal reasons why she wanted to disappear," Halphen said, according to KTBS-TV in Shreveport.

Smith was using an alias in New York and that made it harder to locate her, Halphen said.

Last week, police released a store security tape that showed Smith pawning her wedding ring the day she disappeared.

Smith was last seen March 24 when she told a friend she was going to the concession stand; she never returned to her seat at the women's conference.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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