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NAPLES | Inside the CCSO detective work to find to missing 80-year-old woman

Margaret Ann Gallaway
Posted at 6:47 PM, Oct 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-27 19:02:13-04

A case that’s fascinated Southwest Florida, the rescue of an 80-year-old woman who went missing for six days and was found alive.

Her rescue came from a blurry image; if you blinked, you would miss it.
However, one Collier County Detective didn't, and Fox 4’s Briana Brownlee sat down with him as he shared his story on the one break in the case that caught his eye.

The area of Piccadilly Circus in Naples is considered ground zero by CCSO when it comes to the case of Margaret Ann Gallaway. The 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer's was missing for nearly a week.

Margaret Ann Gallaway

“By far, this is the most memorable and will be likely for the rest of my career," said Collier County Detective Michael Nudi.

Detective Michael Nudi sits down with Briana Brownlee

It was a moment in a blurry image he didn't miss--and a moment Detective Nudi will remember for the rest of his life.

As an officer for 13 years, he's worked on several missing person cases but never solved one like this. The search for 80-year-old Margaret Gallaway quickly consumed Southwest Florida.

Margaret and her husband Michael Gallaway

The non-verbal Alzheimer's patient was caught on camera walking away from home on her neighbor's security video. Sparking days of searching by air, on land, and in water.

"We did six days of searching without anything," Detective Nudi said.

Detectives only having the video taken in the area of Piccadilly Circus from a neighbor's security footage as a clue.

Missing 80-year-old Naples woman caught on camera before going missing

"After that, she was never seen again on camera," Detective Nudi said. “I was convinced that was ground zero; that’s wherever she disappeared; it had to be in this area.”

Determined to find answers, on day six of the search, which was a Sunday, Detective Nudi and his team went back to the Crown Pointe neighborhood.

Leaning on "old school police training", Detective Nudi and his partners knocked on doors until they came across another video from a neighbor who was out of town. Wanting to see their security footage himself, looking for clues that a non-trained eye wouldn’t see.

At first, he said nothing turned up, but as he was about to leave...

“I asked, do you have any more cameras that I didn’t see?," Detective Nudi said.

That one question led to the one break in the case, coming across one single snapshot of the ring video taken. Detective Nudi thought he saw a ghost.

Gallaway Ring Video

"It was a white figure; you couldn’t tell if it was a person or what it was, but my stomach dropped, and I said, 'We have something'," Detective Nudi said.

That something turned out to be the someone CCSO spent days looking for.

“I knew as soon as we opened the door, I knew this was going to be it," Detective Nudi said.

It was Margaret, lying in her neighbor’s garage.

“Emotional, everything you were thinking for the past six days went through your mind in a split second," Detective Nudi said.

And for the best surprise is when he said they found her alive.

"Oh I knew what it was, I knew by the knock," said Michael Gallaway, the husband of Margaret.

It was the knock Margaret's family was waiting to hear for nearly a week--and on the other side of the door was Detective Nudi with the good news.

"Emotional thing for me was the reuniting of the family," Detective Nudi said.

Margaret and her husband

And not only was Margaret was alive, but for the first time in months, Margaret spoke.

And not only was Margaret alive… but for the first time in months…. Margaret spoke.

“He [EMS] said ‘Margaret' and she opened her eyes and she said ‘yes’. We haven’t heard her say yes in a long time, said Maureen Taylor, Margaret's youngest daughter. "Then he said 'Aree you married to Michael Gallaway,' she said “yes’. She hasn’t spoken in as long as I can remember.”

Margaret Gallaway and family

"You’re dealing with someone’s loved one, there’s nothing more important than that," Detective Nudi said. "Nobody is going to let that go. Everyone put 100 percent in, not just me, not just my partners but everyone.”