This morning, Iona Costello and her 14-year-old daughter Emily were found wandering around New York City’s Upper West Side after disappearing nearly three weeks earlier in a manner that was ripped straight from the pages of the next Gillian Flynn novel.

Costello and Emily went for a trip to New York City in late March and disappeared without a trace. Police confessed they had no leads and the last picture of the women—taken by a security camera—doesn’t show them distressed. And there was one more important detail: Costello was in the middle of a battle over the estate of her very wealthy late husband.

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On April 14, Costello’s car was found in a New York City garage, almost a month after she and her daughter had gone missing. According to The New York Daily News, the authorities in charge of the case had no leads due to the fact that their usual methods of tracking missing persons—phone calls, credit card receipts, and ATM transactions—have turned up nothing. Neither of the women’s cell phones were turned on (especially mysterious considering that Emily is 14) and the only reason either were reported missing was because Emily had failed to return to classes after spring break.

What’s especially interesting, aside from the fact that the police had absolutely nothing to go on, is the fact that Costello was in the middle of an inheritance battle with her deceased husband’s four children from previous marriages. While the details of the will have not been released (aside from the fact that the entire estate had been left to Costello), family members reported that Costello had been under a lot of stress since the battle over the will began.

From NYDN:

“She can’t sell anything. She can’t do anything because everything is in court,” the family member said of Iona. “She’s been under a lot of pressure.”

Still, the relative said family members have no clue what might be behind the Costellos’ disappearance.

“I don’t know if she’s having a nervous breakdown. I don’t know if somebody has kidnapped them,” the relative said.

“We have no idea. The family is berserk.”

Friends and neighbors of Costello, who runs a horse farm, expressed concern about the pair’s disappearance, especially since the two weren’t usually known for spontaneously leaving town and telling no one.

“It’s not in keeping with her character that she would just get up and go away,” said Anthony Gigante, owner of Clarke’s Nursery in Greenport.

“We’re hoping that she resurfaces or communicates with someone. We’re just hoping that they’re well somewhere, but we don’t know.”

Even though the two must have known they were being looked for—family members and reporters have called their phones numerous times—they didn’t reach out. And then, today, they were found by a hotel clerk.

Authorities have questioned the two women, who seem to be in good health, and don’t intend to file any charges. It seems dubious that the pair enjoyed New York City so much that they decided to play hooky for two weeks longer than expected, and seems more likely but that there’s another reason the two disappeared without telling anyone (including the workers on Costello’s farm) and turned their phones off for the duration of their trip, using only cash and ignoring phone calls and Facebook postings from family begging for any information on either of the two women.

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Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com

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