AURORA, Colo. – Police in Aurora called off the search for a missing grandmother after a convenience store employee in Westminster found the elderly woman Saturday night.
Lillian Ripper, 93, is believed to have went missing on Friday. She was found late Christmas Eve about 20 miles from her Aurora home at a 7–Eleven, 9201 Federal Blvd. in Westminster. Andres Hoepker, the 7-Eleven supervisor who found Lillian, is being praised a hero.
“She looked disoriented,” said Andres.
The 93-year-old was sitting next to the nacho machine and was not able to remember where she was going or how she got to the store, according to Andres. At the time, Andres had no idea Lillian’s family was desperately trying to find her while Aurora police were busy sending out missing person alerts to the public. Andres served as Lillian’s protector by calling Westminster police and taking care of her until officers arrived.
“I thought to myself, if this was my grandmother-- what would I do,” said Andres. “She wanted coffee, black. I asked her if she wanted anything to eat and she said, ‘Yeah, a donut would go nice with my coffee.’”
Speaking to FOX31 over phone on Christmas Day, Lillian’s son, Thomas, called her 7-Eleven hero a “wonderful human being.”
“[Andres] is a good Samaritan through and through,” said Thomas. “He recognized that this was somebody who needed help. [He] saved our Christmas.”
It is still a mystery as to how Lillian got to the Westminster 7-Eleven from her Aurora home in the midst of frigid weather conditions. Thomas believes Lillian drove the 20 miles to Westminster in her 1999 Silver Taurus, but that car is missing. The vehicle was never seen in the 7-Eleven parking lot.
“I don’t think [the car] ever made it to the 7-Eleven,” said Thomas. “We still haven’t been able to run that down yet.”
Police in Aurora and Westminster are on alert for the missing car, but Lillian’s family said all that matters is that Grandma is home for Christmas.
As a precaution, Lillian was checked out by paramedics and by staff at a local hospital. She was quickly released and celebrated Christmas with her family on Sunday. If you notice her Silver Ford Taurus with Colorado tag 131-IZD, call 911.