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Police: Don’t Fear the Woman in the White Sheet

by Karen Goff May 12, 2015 at 11:00 am 5,676 29 Comments

Fairfax County Police Have you seen a woman lying down in public under a white sheet near the Reston Regional Library?

Many Restonians have, and that is why officers from the FCPD’s Reston District Station are speaking out about it.

“We get about a dozen calls a day about this person,” says Reston Crime Prevention Officer Katy Defoe. “She is not a danger to herself or the community.”

The woman can often be seen lying down in public areas (sidewalks, medians) in recent months in the Reston area, Defoe said. Sometimes the woman is covered in a white sheet and may appear agitated or shaky.

Police, as well as human services agency representatives in Fairfax County are familiar with the woman and have routine contact and conversation with her. Her behaviors are not “illegal” or criminal in nature, police said.

The Reston District Station is asking the public to respect the privacy of the woman, who has become known as “the lady under the sheet” or the “white sheet lady.”

Defoe said the woman is staying at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter and is receiving county services. She is a recent transfer from the South County district, where she was well-known for the same behaviors. The woman was once hit by a car when she was lying in the street, Defoe said.

Police said to please contact them at (703) 478-0904 if you witness any unusual behavior felt to be a public safety danger, such as lying in the street.

  • meh

    plenty of open green space to lie down at tetra.

    • Nice one

      ha. love it. Put that $2.7 mil to good use

      • Mike M

        But charge her by the hour. We gotta make our money back, now that we’ve thrown it away.

  • novatom

    “The woman was once hit by a car when she was lying in the street.”

    THAT activity IS illegal however. Poor driver.

  • Vina Hutchinson

    So social services and the police are assuming responsibility for any accident she might cause with this behavior … good to know.

    • LesAnn620

      So far I haven’t seen her put herself in direct danger. I live in Oak Park, just a block over from the library and we see her frequently, but she’s never ended up in the street yet. I ‘m sure someone from my neighborhood would call the police if we happened to see her and that were the case.

      • WhoIsJohnGalt

        “The woman was once hit by a car when she was lying in the street, Defoe said.”

        That sounds like she’s placing her self in direct danger. But then again maybe it’s totally safe to just cover yourself up in a sheet and take a nap in the middle of the road

        • LesAnn620

          Ok, I should have said: Since she was transferred to the Embry Rucker Shelter I have not seen her put herself in direct danger.

          The previous instance happened when she was in the South County district. Basically since she’s been in my neighborhood, I haven’t seen her do anything overtly dangerous.

        • novatom

          She’s not only putting herself in danger (which I’m not sure is actually a “crime”), her actions could very well traumatize an unsuspecting driver who would have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

    • Mike M

      Sounds like she is completely a County ward, and then some what with the police calls and injury and additional risks.


    Describing her as a woman in a white sheet makes her sound like a KKK member.

  • obxers

    “She is not a danger to herself or the community.” Yet, “The woman was once hit by a car when she was lying in the street, Defoe said.” Sure, no danger to herself, there.

  • Lucille

    Unless she is deemed incapable of making decisions for herself (incompetent) and demonstrates the need for a guardian. (by virtue of a Court Order ONLY) she is allowed to make any decisions she wants…. crazy as they might be… if she presents a clear danger to herself it is up to DSS &/or CSB to prove that she is incompetent and prove it to the cour, before she can get the help she might need without her consent….if her lack of competency is a threat to others the police can step- in as far as criminal activity; but again CSB must prove to the court her lack of competency and imminent danger … She may be a nuisance…but up to mow, she is not a threat to the community or herself (Just guilty weird behaviors) S
    omething we might all be arrested for; if being weird was a crime!

    • avery12

      Did you not read the part where this poor lady was lying in the street and was hit by a car?

      • Barbara Goddard

        When ?

  • Mike M

    Concomitantly, . . . fear not the naked dude dancing about in the sombrero.

    • avery12

      Now that one is always out in front of the library….

  • Mike M

    There’s a giant doing cartwheels a statue wearin’ high heels
    Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn
    A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens

    Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door

  • BeZ23

    So what do we tell our children when they see her? She’s done this in front of my kids school.

    • johnson

      Seriously? do you really need help explaining such a simple topic to your children? so many different directions i could take this, but maybe just explain “gratitude”. Be grateful for the family you have. Not everyone has a loving family. Be grateful for the faculties you have, not everyone is as fortunate. Everyone in this world has a different make up and be grateful for what you are and have and be empathetic to those who may be a little different.. just a thought but if you need more try this…


      Just tell your kids she is out of her mind.

  • Matt Lambakis

    I’ve seen this lady before and all she does is lay on the sidewalk with a blanket covering her upper body, leaving her feet to stick out. Its not really a big deal, I’m sure it’s just a form of comfort for her. I think everyone has met at least one person in their life that does stranger than usual things; it doesn’t make them “crazy”. Theirs way more pressing matters to attach our attention too. Like all the robberies that have been taking place in Reston or the excessive over development of this area. It’s pretty sad that anyone of us even care about a harmless human being laying on the floor with a blanket over their head.

    • Brian

      Matt, with all due respect this behavior, in general, usually indicates a mental illness or other issue. We’re not being compassionate letting people lay down where they could get injured.

      She may be perfectly fine, but if we accept this as “okay” there will be more and more people just hanging around. I am in DC weekly and the filth and agitation around many areas is disturbing. That will breed crime. At some point, it would be nice for county leaders promote and protect property values – not adopt a policy to cause urban decay.

      • Vina Hutchinson

        DC is not the only place to see those sorts of folks. The panhandling outside the Metro station is starting to build up now that warm weather is here. There were four on Friday, three of whom appear to be regulars.

  • Fed up in Reston

    Why do we import these lunatics into Reston from other parts of the County? Bad enough the Embry Rucker shelter is there as it is, with the vagrants bathing in the restrooms at the Library and panhandling…perfect element we want in our community, next to the daycare center, library, and senior citizen housing…

    • WhoIsJohnGalt

      I’d rather these lunatics in Reson than what we have in South Reston now. At least this person isn’t going to mug me

      • Queenie

        I live across from shadow wood, so i agree

  • Ricky Spanish

    Police say don’t fear the woman in white sheet, in addition The Blue Oyster Cult would like you to remind you Don’t Fear The Reaper.

  • Barbara Goddard

    I live at Oak Park and have witnessed this woman many times. I have to admit the first time I witnessed her on the sidewalk of Bowman Town I was a little concerned . I treat all the residents of the Emily Rucker Shelter with respect at all times, Have been at little concerned for her safety but have never called the police , will not hesitate though if if see her in the middle of Bowman Town or any of the other cross streets . Thank you for sharing this information as it makes me more aware of her not being a danger to herself or anyone else.


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