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Woman whose mother disappeared 17 years ago finds long-lost brother

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 28 2012 4:26 p.m. MST

Bobbi Ann Campbell hugs her daughter, Stephanie. When Stephanie was 5 years old, her mom disappeared on her way to the grocery store. She never picked up a paycheck, never got groceries. Her car was found a year later, the fresh laundry from a trip to the laundromat that day still in place.

, Stephanie Cook

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah woman whose mother disappeared 17 years ago has solved a different mystery. She tracked down a brother she's never met.

When Bobbi Ann Campbell mysteriously disappeared in 1994, she left a daughter searching for answers. Campbell also left a son who never even knew she was missing.

"I grew up an only child, and now I have a brother," said Stephanie Cook.

Cook and Thomas Linton are making up for lost time. "We're just getting to know each other," Cook said. "What's your favorite color? What's your favorite food?"

Linton just finished his service with the Utah National Guard. He is in Alabama, so they have been talking on the phone and by text. The siblings will meet for the first time next month.

“I've been trying to find my brother my whole life and finally getting to meet him is really exciting," she said.

But the reunion is bittersweet. Linton is the last connection Cook has to their mother, Bobbi Ann Campbell, who disappeared in 1994. She dropped off her daughter, then 5 years old, at a friend's house while she went to pick up her paycheck and buy groceries.

No one knows what happened to her after that. Her car was found near the Jordan River. It was abandoned and unlocked. Her purse and money were both inside. Police are investigating, but there have been no leads.

Cook was only 1 year old when Campbell put her son up for adoption. With the help of fate and the Internet, Cook found a Deseret News article about her long-lost brother.

In January, she called his adoptive parents, who live in Mapleton.

"I Googled 'Thomas, adopted, Salt Lake City, 1990,'" she said. "I knew his parents' names through the adoption papers I have, and everything matched up."

Thomas was also curious about his birth parents. He left letters for his mother at the adoption agency. "I was wondering why she never responded at all," he said.

He did not know Campbell was missing. “It was really emotional," Cook said. "I stuttered. I cried. It was really hard to tell them (Linton’s adoptive parents) what happened."

Her disappearance is a mystery that police continue to investigate. "I was in shock," Linton said. "At first, I didn't know what to think, but I really want to help this investigation and find out what happened to my birth mom."

Campbell kept mementos of her son: baby clothes and pictures that his adoptive parents sent her. Stephanie held on to them hoping that, one day, she would meet her baby brother.

"I don't feel alone anymore," she said. "I feel like a piece of my missing puzzle is completed and now we just need one more."

Thomas will fly to Utah next month to meet his sister before he goes on active duty for the Army in May.

The two will go to Larkin Cemetery in Sandy on March 9, where there is a memorial stone for their mother. They will release balloons — something Stephanie has done in the past to raise awareness about her mother's disappearance.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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