Update: At 1 p.m. on February 27, 2015, it's been confirmed Lisa's car was found at Cooley's Landing Marina. We'll keep you updated as new information comes in.
By Andrea Richard
When Fort Lauderdale musician and piano teacher, Lisa "Noodles" Hayden-Gordon, was reported missing, her family, friends, and the South Florida music community quickly responded by launching an extensive search. They posted tirelessly on social media, created findnoodles.com, and distributed flyers around downtown Fort Lauderdale asking for any new information on her whereabouts. She was last seen around 1 a.m. on Saturday, January 24, 2015.
Teajay Smith, photographer and longtime friend, was hanging out with Noodles the night before she disappeared. "She came over to comfort me about some anxiety I was having. We talked for about three and half hours and may have talked about every love we'd ever had," she recalls, also saying that Noodles didn't appear to be distressed at the time and was saving her money for a summer road trip.
On Saturday, she ran into her again. Though Noodles had been sober for a period of time, she was drinking the night of her disappearance. That evening, she attended a Keller Williams concert at Revolution Live.
Smith bumped into Noodles at nearly half past midnight at the PoorHouse next door. They hung out and chatted for a bit. Smith thought it appeared Noodles needed a safe ride home, so she intended to stick with her.
But before the next band took the stage at just a few minutes past 1 a.m., Noodles walked away alone without a word, leaving Smith concerned.
After that, reports are conflicting. We were told she was last seen heading down the alley behind PoorHouse and Dicey Riley's with her keys in her hand at about 1:30 a.m. It looked like she was walking to her car. Another witness who supposedly spoke with police said she saw Noodles again at 2:05 a.m. in the bathroom, but won't speak to the media. However, the police's press release on the matter says she was last seen at 1:30 p.m.
This is the flyer her friends are posting around Fort Lauderdale.
"The next morning, I started texting and calling her. And I thought that I might have been overreacting and that she was fine," Smith shares, "I didn't get ahold of her so I went by her house. Monday evening, I called her sister Suzy [O'Leary of North Carolina.]"
The two first met in the 1990s during the annual camping event, Ray Conga Peace River trip. Noodles was one of those wacky and endearing characters, according to Smith, who wore costumes like fairy wings and antennae on her head. She has a huge affinity for glitter.
"When we would go camping, she would paint everyone's nails with glitter polish. She would just walk up and mark you," she recalls. "Every car she's had, she's had a touch of glitter on it. There was so much glitter on the dashboard that she had to put a towel over it so she could see when driving."
Noodles teaches private piano lessons for children out of her home, and has done stints waiting tables at popular diners such as Lester's, the Floridian, and Gramps Bakery.
She recorded her album Noodles on Jupiter, released in 2002, with Frank Falestra, aka Rat Bastard, at his music studio in Miami Beach. Her musical stylings were theatrical, a nod to Broadway, and zany, much like her personality.
Musician, Zac Calabrese, now of Asheville, played in various bands with Noodles. In 2013, he produced her music video in which fairy kids parade in front of the IMAX theatre in downtown Fort Lauderdale, just blocks from where she was last seen. He remembers meeting her for first time in the 1990s in South Beach. It was at an open mic night he hosted for singer-songwriters at nightclub, Washington Square.
"We were hanging outside in the front of the club," he says. "She was new to town. She comes up on a motorcycle right onto the sidewalk — dressed like a fairy lady — gets off the bike, takes her helmet off and she has this fire-red hair, and she says, 'Hey, is this where the music is?" And we were all like, 'Who are you?'" he remembers.
"She would yell and scream at the audience, throw glitter at people's drinks, some would laugh and others would get upset. She was that extreme, people either loved her or hated her. She would say that she was an enchanting fairy. The whole room would be her stage.
"She always made an entrance everywhere," Calabrese says.
Longtime friend and singer-songwriter, Teri Catlin, has been spending up to 10 hours a day searching for Noodles around 1-95 and area parks since the Sunday after her disappearance.
"I get up at 7 a.m. in the morning and hang up posters looking for her. This is my life now and this is all I do," she says. "She's one in a million. She's a magical bright light, always smiling, present and personable with everyone. We have to find her."
To aid in her search, Catlin spoke to several psychics for clues, stating that they have all said she is alive and well. A drone was used to search Mills Pond Park, which did not lead to any tips.
"I still believe she's alive, and I'll keep doing this until we find her."
On February 3, 2015, Nancy Grace even hosted a segment on Noodles. A few weeks ago, frustration and sadness were palpable at a Thursday afternoon news conference at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, as Noodles' sisters and best friend, Teri Catlin, discussed what they have been doing, how the search has affected their lives and what the Wilton Manors resident means to them.
If you have any information at all, please contact the Fort Lauderdale Police Department at 954-764-HELP (4357).
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