For more than a month, Kirk Moody has been driven nearly crazy by one haunting question: Where is his wife?
On October 15, during an outing to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nancy Paulikas walked into a women’s restroom and disappeared.
Paulikas, 56, is a former software engineer, the holder of a Master’s degree in computer science from UCLA and a “brilliant” woman, her husband says.
He met her in 1988, and was struck by her keen intelligence and love of adventure. They were married in 2002 and retired early, having scrimped and saved to spend a long and leisurely third act of their lives.
But her brilliance was stolen by early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and her condition had severely declined in the weeks before she disappeared, Moody said.
The once-vibrant holder of pilot’s license had become increasingly agitated and suffered aphasia, the inability to understand language or speak it. Their trip to the museum, with Moody’s relatives, was a rare outing for her.
Going out was just too hard, and too hard on Paulikas.
But on that Saturday afternoon, she was having a good day, he said. “She was very calm and doing very well.” He took her to the restroom, and he went to the men’s room. When he came back to get her, she wasn’t there.
After a frenzied search, and alerting security, it became clear Paulikas was nowhere inside the sprawling museum.
A surveillance camera video would later show her walking west along Wilshire Boulevard, turning south on McCarthy Vista only a few minutes after she vanished from the museum.
She is 5-foot-7-inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. Her hair is grayish-brown.
Moody and his friends have called all the hospitals in Los Angeles County and several in surrounding counties. Police detectives say she most likely has been taken in by a stranger, but Moody has difficulty accepting that.
Her body has not shown up in the L.A. Coroner’s office.
Moody says he has no idea where she is. “She’s not a wanderer,” he said. Since her diagnosis in 2015, she has lost her sense of direction along with her speech.
He frets that she wouldn’t be able to tell anyone her name or where she lives.
Her quick descent into losing her sense of self was hard enough to bear. But losing her altogether has driven him to a place where he doubts his own mental state.
“I don’t know how close to sanity I am,” he said.