Woman arrested in burglary left 3 kids, disappeared from Illinois

ATHENS, Ga. — A woman accused of burglarizing offices at the University of Georgia had left her children and disappeared from her Illinois home about a month earlier.


The Athens Banner-Herald reports that family members of 33-year-old Linda Fellenbaum reported her missing Oct. 25 from Joliet, Ill. Police said she was last seen on Oct. 21 when she had an argument with her boyfriend and fled the house without taking her car or cell phone. They said earlier that day she had made plans for a sexual liaison with a Chicago man she met on Craigslist, but she got cold feet.

Brian Benton, investigations division commander for the Joliet police, said they made an exhaustive search because they were concerned about her well-being and the whereabouts of her three children. They found Fellenbaum left two children with relatives in Illinois and Wisconsin and put up her 2-year-old son for adoption.

Benton said Fellenbaum had no criminal record or history of substance abuse or mental illness.

“It was a unique case in that she left so suddenly, severing all ties with everyone she knew,” he told the newspaper.

Fellenbaum made her way to Georgia, where she had responded to an ad on Craigslist from a retired truck driver in Sharpsburg who was looking for a housekeeper. The man told the Banner-Herald that he talked with Fellenbaum by phone for a month or two before she became his housekeeper. He said she worked for him for about 10 days before telling him that she was going to spend a weekend with relatives in Athens.

On Nov. 27, Fellenbaum showed up at the University of Georgia’s hotel and conference center in Athens, where she is accused of entering offices and taking two iPads, an iPhone, and a laptop computer. University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said a clerk spotted Fellenbaum boarding a shuttle bus to the Atlanta airport, and Atlanta police arrested her when she arrived at the airport on Nov. 28.

Police learned Fellen­baum’s shuttle bus ticket had been paid for with the retired trucker’s credit card.

Atlanta police booked her into the Fulton County Jail, where they say she attempted suicide. On Dec. 10, after her release from an Atlanta hospital, she was booked into the Clarke County Jail on a burglary charge.

Her bond is set at $4,000, but her public defender has filed court papers seeking to have it reduced. The lawyer said she is a resident of the Atlanta area and will return to court as directed.

In Joliet, Benton said the case got weirder as it went along because Fellenbaum had a history of being a responsible woman.

“The life she chose was very different from the life she had, and we can only speculate whether she planned at some point to return to the life she had,” he said.