A missing Volo woman who was the subject of an intensive search said she needed to "get away" and spent six days living out of her SUV with her two young children in a secluded area of the Wisconsin Dells, authorities said Monday.
Aneta Marsek, 33, remains in a mental health hospital in Wisconsin after she turned herself in to authorities Sunday, but her two children are safe at home, Lake County sheriff's Deputy Chief Wayne Hunter said.
"Police are telling me she is OK but have kept her in the hospital," said her father, John Czaja. "I can't speculate on what happened or why she is still in the hospital right now. I'm trying to make some calls to find out what is going on."
Dan Marsek, Aneta's husband, did not return telephone calls seeking comment. The voicemail message on his cellphone said "we are taking this time to celebrate as a family" and thanked all for their assistance.
Aneta Marsek and her children left her parents' Wauconda house Oct. 6 and went missing for more than a week. Family and friends held vigils and passed out fliers as authorities searched area retention ponds in Volo and Lake Michigan near Winthrop Harbor, and alerted truck drivers in six states.
That search ended about 6:55 p.m. Sunday when Wisconsin Dells police officers received a 911 call from a gas station attendant who said a woman had walked into the building and asked that the attendant call police, Hunter said.
The woman identified herself to arriving officers as Aneta Marsek, Hunter said, and told them she believed people were looking for her. She led officers to her Chevrolet Trailblazer, where her children, Chevelle, 2, and Macenzie, 4 months, were located.
Aneta Marsek told police she had been living in her vehicle in the secluded wooded area off County Road H and Fitzgerald Road since she had arrived in the Dells days earlier.
At that point, Hunter said, the three were taken to St. Clair Hospital in Baraboo.
Both children were examined, found to be in good health and later released into the custody of their father, Dan Marsek. Aneta Marsek was taken to Winnebago Mental Health Facility in Oshkosh, Wis.
Hunter added that Aneta Marsek told Lake County detectives she did not leave the Volo area until sometime the morning of Monday, Oct. 8. She said she needed to "get away" and the Dells reminded her of "childhood memories."
Working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Lake County sheriff's office sent out more than 9,000 faxed reports about the Marseks. The center also had alerted truck drivers in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, police said.
Aneta Marsek filed for divorce from her husband in June, court records show, and both Marseks filed for orders of protection against each other.
She had dropped her request for an order of protection, but Dan Marsek had obtained his on Oct. 11 after the children were reported missing, court records show.
Hunter said it would be difficult to calculate the costs of the search as some resources were already on duty but redirected, for example.
"It would be very difficult to tabulate a bill with any accuracy," he said.
As of Monday afternoon, authorities were said to still be conducting interviews.
"In a situation like this, the police are involved in the investigation not only in trying to find her but what the circumstances were," said Jeff Pavletic, chief deputy Lake County state's attorney.
He said that investigation would determine whether there was foul play or criminal activity of some sort and whether the matter should be referred to the state's attorney's office for review.
That had not occurred as of Monday afternoon, he said.
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said he was relieved the case had a happy ending.
"I would like to commend our many divisions of the sheriff's office that put their heart and souls into locating Aneta and her children," Curran said. "We want to thank the entire law enforcement community, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, friends and family of the missing and the media for their assistance and overwhelming support in their attempts to help us locate Anita and her two children."