BROOKLYN (PIX11) — Shortly after retired transit worker Michael “Shaka” Thorne was found sleeping in a car in Brooklyn, his wife received a disturbing text message from a phone number with a Georgia area code.

“I told you I have Shaka,” the text read, “but you decided not….to take it seriously,” the wife, Stephanie Haas-Thorne, shared with PIX11 News.

The text claimed Michael Thorne, 58–who has severe memory loss–was sick and asking for his family.

“I am not releasing him until I have a ransom of $7,000,” the texter told Thorne’s wife.

Thorne had already been found about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, sleeping inside a car on Putnam Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where he and his family had lived for nine years.

Police detectives have told PIX11 News in the past that scammers sometimes take advantage of families of the missing, especially when they circulate posters with private phone numbers on them.

Thorne, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while laying track for the Transit Authority in August 2019, was taken to Wyckoff Heights Hospital. He had disappeared from his home in New Milford, New Jersey last Saturday morning, Oct. 8.

“I don’t know if he walked all night,” Stephanie Haas-Thorne said.  

The wife said her husband’s lips appeared to be swollen from exposure to the elements but, other than that, his health seemed relatively good.

When members of Thorne’s extended family asked him why he left home–and where he’d been–Thorne reportedly responded, “I wasn’t lost; I was just working.”

Thorne is a father of two; he and his wife are also raising their grandson in New Jersey.

Stephanie Haas-Thorne said her husband is back home now in New Milford and thanked PIX11 News for the attention we brought to his disappearance.

“It really made a difference,” Haas-Thorne said.  “Thank you so much.”