Update: Missing actress, romance novelist Faleena Hopkins found safe
February 15, 2023, 2:30 PM HST
* Updated February 17, 1:49 PM
Update on Feb. 17: Romance novelist and actress Faleena Hopkins has been found safe at 1:15 p.m. today. Her family has been notified, according to Lt. Russ Ruschill with the Town of Jackson Police Department in Wyoming.
Original story: Romance novelist and actress Faleena Hopkins — who wrote the “Cocker Brothers” and “Werewolves of New York” series and starred in the 2020 drama “Just One More Kiss” — went missing 16 days ago and now Wyoming police officers believe she is on Kaua’i after tracing pings of her new phone to the island.
Lt. Russ Ruschill with the Town of Jackson Police Department in Wyoming said his agency is investigating a “potentially endangered missing person” because of erratic behavior displayed by Hopkins. It included leading National Park Service police on a 24-mile high-speed chase in Wyoming.
Ruschill and Jackson detectives working on the case believe that 52-year-old Hopkins is on Kaua’i due to her cell phone tower records that show pings multiple times on Tuesday between Wailua and Kapa’a. Her phone also pinged in the area of the Wal-Mart in Līhuʻe.
Hopkins was reported missing by friends and family about 10 days ago when they became worried.
But Hopkins has not been seen since Jan. 30, the same day Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin released Hopkins from Teton County jail in Wyoming on her own recognizance. She is on the Wyoming Missing Person’s list.
Hopkins is a white female, approximately 5’7″ and 135 pounds, with green eyes and blond hair. She has an infinity symbol on her left wrist, “Follow All Instincts” on her right wrist, a lion face on her left shoulder and a hummingbird on her right ankle.
Three days earlier Hopkins had been arrested after the high-speed chase in which she reached up to 90 mph. Officers deployed spike strips to deflate her vehicle’s tires. The officers had initially approached her because she was parked in the middle of the road, news reports said.
About an hour before the high speed chase started, park officials had pulled her car from the snow after it got stuck. She was cited for “operating a non-oversnow vehicle in an oversnow route,” the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.
Ruschill said they have security video showing Hopkins walking right past his office after leaving the detention center. After receiving the missing person’s report days later, officers discovered that immediately after getting out of jail she took a Delta flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she went to a Verizon store and bought a new phone.
“That’s where the trail gets really fuzzy and kind of weird,” Ruschill said.
When the first ping of the Verizon phone belonging to Hopkins occurred, Ruschill said he was “not trusting” it because it was 400 meters offshore of Kapa’a Beach. “Unless she was on a sailboat or surfing, I don’t think so,” he said.
But the pings continued at Kapa’a Beach to Wailua to the Wal-Mart in Līhuʻe.
“We got almost 12 hours worth of data from the cellphone, suggesting she was on the island,” Ruschill said.
Another reason Ruschill said they believe she is on Kauaʻi is right after a detective sergeant called Hopkins’ cellphone and left a message on Tuesday, the phone was shut off.
Ruschill said there is concern about Hopkins’ mental state because she is acting out of character.
“She is a noted romance author, successful author, not the kind of person to leave her home and drive for 10 hours overnight and get in pursuit with law enforcement in the middle of Wyoming,” he said.
Hopkins also abandoned her dog at an animal shelter and her car at a towing company’s impound lot.
Hopkins’ romance series includes “Cocky Heart Surgeon,” “Cocky Cowboy,” “Cocky Rockstar,” “Cocky Romantic,” “Cockie Roomie” and “Cocky Senator.” She’s also authored the Werewolves of New York series.
Hopkins bookbub.com author page says: Faleena Hopkins specializes in love stories about good people with strong family bonds, in both books and film. Find out more on her website: AuthorFaleenaHopkins.com
Hopkins did go through a professional ordeal in 2018, after making national headlines for registering and receiving a trademark for the word “cocky.” Romance novelists everywhere were outraged and Hopkin ultimately surrendered her trademark registrations.
Hopkins also is an actress and was the lead in 2020 romance drama “Just One More Kiss,” for which she won an award.
Ruschill said the only remote connection they could find of Hopkins to Kaua’i is that her biological father may have lived on O’ahu at one time.
Hopkins is scheduled for her next federal court appearance on Feb. 28. She’s charged with stopping or parking on the roadway, operating in excess of the posted speed limit and fleeing or attempting to elude police.
Ruschill said his agency has reached out to the Kaua’i Police Department for help in the search.
Anyone with information or contact with Hopkin is requested to contact the Jackson Police Department at 307-733-1430 or the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation at 307-777-7181. Anyone with information also can contact the Kaua’i Police Department.