Is She Or Isn't She Patricia Meehan?

A transient arrested for littering remained in jail yesterday while a key witness says she probably is not a Montana woman who disappeared last year after walking away from an automobile accident.

Police have been unable to determine whether the woman who identified herself as Morning Star is Patricia Meehan, 37, who vanished after walking away from a car crash near Circle, Mont., on April 20, 1989. Relatives fear she is suffering from amnesia.

Officer Steve Koskimaki spotted the woman in a restaurant Thursday and was sure she was Meehan, whose photograph has been circulated widely in the Pacific Northwest. Koskimaki arrested her after she threw a newspaper on the street.

However, Kurt Flechel of Spokane, a former longtime boyfriend of Meehan, told police Meehan is not the woman in custody, although ``there was a strong resemblance and the voice was similar,'' Lt. Don Jiran said.

In an appearance Friday before Magistrate Neil Walter, the woman said she was a missionary for God and stopped in town en route from Seattle to Montana.

``I really think it's her. This woman is the spitting image of Meehan,'' said Lt. Greg Surplus. ``If this isn't her, then we've still got a missing person from somewhere.''