A Mystery Solved: Missing Romance Novelist Found

Faleena Hopkins discovered safe in Hawaii after disappearing from Jackson Hole

Faleena Hopkins, 52, was apprehended after a high-speed chase in Grand Teton National Park on Jan. 27 and booked into the Teton County Jail. The author and filmmaker disappeared after her release, only to be located in Hawaii on Feb. 17. (Courtesy photo from the Jackson Police Department)

By Melissa Thomasma

Special to the Wyoming Truth


Romance novelist and filmmaker Faleena Hopkins, who went missing for over two weeks, has been located in Kauai, Hawaii through the use of cell phone location tracking, according to the Jackson Police Department. 

The 52-year old was located last Friday; she had disappeared after being released from jail in Teton County on Jan. 30 following her arrest in the aftermath of a high-speed vehicle chase.

“There were lots of agencies involved in looking for Ms. Hopkins, and their cooperation assisted in locating her safely,” Sgt. Phillip Smith told the Wyoming Truth. “She is an adult and can live her life as she pleases. Once we verified her welfare, we closed the missing person case and appreciate everyone respecting her privacy.”

Smith said Jackson police have no further information about why Hopkins, a resident of Washington, was in the Jackson Hole area nor why she departed Wyoming—first for Salt Lake City, Utah and then for Hawaii—while leaving her vehicle and dog behind. Both have since been retrieved by Hopkins’ family. 

On Friday, January 27, an hour after her vehicle got stuck in the snow near the south end of Yellowstone National Park, Hopkins was contacted by a Grand Teton National Park Ranger, said Valerie Gohlke, public affairs officer for Grand Teton National Park. Hopkins eluded the officer and embarked on a 24-mile high-speed chase southward through the park on Highway 89.

Gohlke confirmed that Hopkins was clocked driving over 75 mph, reaching speeds up to 90 mph before she was arrested, taken into custody by park rangers and transported to the Teton County Jail. 

On Feb. 13, Shann Maureen, who claims to be Hopkins’ sister, posted on Facebook a possible interpretation of Hopkins’ entanglement with local law enforcement last month: “Here is the key information regarding the ‘police chase’: Faleena was alone in an incredibly remote location when a truck pulled in behind her and a man approached her car.  This man turned out to be a park ranger.  At the time, she was already in crisis mode and she did not recognize this person as law enforcement.”  

Maureen’s post continued, “At this point, she did what our policeman father always taught us to do in a situation where someone in an unmarked vehicle tries to pull you over and/or you feel unsafe: you KEEP DRIVING until you find a public area and feel safe to pull over. Upon exiting the park, there were two (clearly marked) police cruisers and she pulled over.”

Maureen did not respond to the Wyoming Truth’s request for comment. Her post claims that Hopkins “has no criminal record, zero history of any type of substance abuse, no DUI’s, no abuse of alcohol, etc.” 

Smith was unable to confirm or deny that Hopkins does not have a criminal record. “We were never interested in Ms. Hopkins as a criminal suspect, so I don’t have that information,” said Smith, noting that police focused on Hopkins as a missing person whose family was concerned about her safety. 

Maureen ended her post with gratitude for the professionalism and dedication of local law enforcement: “The Wyoming police detectives have been amazing and incredibly helpful throughout this situation.”

Hopkins is scheduled for an arraignment hearing in Federal Court at 10 a.m. on Feb. 28. She faces misdemeanor federal charges, including speeding, stopping or parking in the roadway, failing to comply with a traffic control device, careless operation of a vehicle, and fleeing or attempting to elude police officers.

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