MP of the week: Darren Hillis

This week’s featured missing person is Darren Bruce Hills, a 14-year-old boy who disappeared while walking to school in Norfolk, Virginia in 1973.  If still alive, he’d be 59 today.

I don’t know anything much about the case, unfortunately. He has a Facebook page but it doesn’t really say much. This article suggests he was a victim of the serial killer Dean Corll, but I don’t know if anything came of that suggestion.

Native American Heritage Month: Shrie Rowland

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Shrie Marie Rowland, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Saratoga Springs, Utah on July 2, 2004. She is classified as a runaway.

I found some obituaries for members of Shrie’s family and deduced that she is of Native American (Sioux) and Puerto Rican descent. I wonder if she really did run away; it’s very uncommon for a runaway to be missing for as long as that.

MP of the week: Tamara Porrin

This week’s featured missing person is Tamara Dawn Porrin, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from DuBois, Pennsylvania on November 22, 1986. Although she was at first written off as a runaway, and it’s possible that she DID run away, the passage of time indicates something bad might have happened to her.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Keyla Contreras

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Keyla Contreras, a biracial Hispanic and African-American eighteen-year-old who disappeared from Manhattan on January 13, 2012.

Keyla’s case is concerning because she’s deaf and mute — meaning she can’t speak intelligibly and only communicates with sign language. Obviously that makes her extremely vulnerable. She left her home in the Spanish Harlem area at 7:00 a.m., perhaps to go to work or school, and vanished.

Unfortunately I know very little about her disappearance. Even the Whereabouts Still Unknown blog, known for its wonderful research, couldn’t find much on her.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Gabriela Gonzalez

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Gabriela Leticia Gonzalez, a fourteen-year-old girl who disappeared from San Diego, California on April 5, 2002. That day she skipped school for the third day in a row and took off to visit her boyfriend, Juan Vera.

Although she was written off as a runaway at first, so many years have passed that the cops are wondering if something bad happened to Gabriela. She’d be 31 now and has been missing longer than she had been alive.

Vera, who was abusive and has gang affiliations, is a possible suspect. Police looked for Gabriela’s body in the Otay River, but turned up nothing. Last I heard, Vera was in prison, but that was quite awhile ago. I’m not sure what he’s up to nowadays.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: David Ortiz

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is David Jacquez Ortiz Jr., an 18-year-old who disappeared from Silver City, New Mexico on October 31, 2010. He went out to go trick-or-treating and never returned.

Ortiz is missing under unclear circumstances, but his family is convinced he met with foul play. They said he had plans for the future and they don’t believe he would have left on his own. The most recent press I can find on him is this 2016 anniversary article.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Henrietta Cruz Avila

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month I’m featuring a Hispanic missing person every day from September 15 to October 15. Today’s case is Henrietta Geck Cruz Avila, a seventeen-year-old missing from Santa Ana, California. This is a very old case, from 1960. 58 years ago.

Henrietta married a few months before her disappearance; it wasn’t at all unusual at that time for teenagers to marry. She had only known her husband, Merle Avila, for a month or so, and he was 24.

The circumstances of her disappearance are unclear, but I think it’s quite likely that Henrietta met with foul play around the time of her disappearance or shortly thereafter, and that her killer or someone acting on the killer’s behalf made attempts to make her family believe she was alive and well.

I cannot imagine why a girl who had run away would come back and leave some of her clothes — and underclothes at that — sitting in her parents’ driveway. But I can well imagine that a killer, trying to confuse the investigation, would do so. In fact, I know of a documented case where something similar happened: a woman whose daughter was supposedly abducted got mailed one of the little girl’s mittens. Nothing else was in the envelope. It turned out the mother had killed her daughter and mailed the mitten to herself.

Sadly, after so many years I doubt Henrietta’s disappearance can be solved. I wonder if the police have talked to Merle Avila at all over the years, or know where he is now or if he’s still alive.