National Hispanic Heritage Month: Karen Rosalba Grajeda

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 Karen Rosalba Grajeda, a 7-year-old girl who disappeared from Tucson, Arizona on January 11, 1996.

She was roller-skating with her sister and some other children in the courtyard of her apartment complex when she left to drop her roller skates back off home. It’s not clear whether she ever arrived at her house, but by the time Karen’s mom called the girls in for dinner, Karen was nowhere to be found.

She is believed to have been kidnapped by a non-relative, and some suspects have been named, but no charges were ever filed against anyone. There’s speculation, as noted in her casefile, that Karen’s abduction is connected to the unsolved rape and murder of six-year-old Esther Lizette Galaz. Certainly the cases are very similar, but until Lizette’s murder is solved or Karen is found, any speculation has to remain only that.

I wonder how thoroughly the other residents in the complex (which had over 400 apartments) were checked. In March 1996, Albert Aguilar Ramirez, a resident of the complex who had a criminal for sexual abuse, murdered his elderly neighbor. The cops said they had “no reason to believe” Ramirez was involved in Karen’s disappearance, though. A fellow resident with a history of child molestation would be an obvious suspect in Karen’s case, and my guess is the police had investigated him and ruled him out earlier, right after Karen’s abduction and before he killed the neighbor.

I highly doubt Karen is still alive. There are so many places to hide a body in the desert.