By Victor Lopez
BALMORHEA-- Gone but not forgotten. Reeves County authorities have re-opened a missing persons case, gone cold. They're hoping to heat things up and solve an, almost 12-year old mystery.
I spoke with the sheriff to find out why he's re-opened the case. I also spoke to residents, who shared their thoughts
Monica disappearance and this investigation.
Spring 2015 in Reeves County. Everything is green, thanks to recent rains. The cactus flowers are in full bloom. But, something is missing.
Monica Carrasco disappeared from Balmorhea, Texas, almost 12 years ago. It's sad to say that some people may not remember. But, you can rest assured that some people will never forget.
Monica disappeared on an autumn night, October first, 2003. The circumstances behind her disappearance are unknown to this day, so is any knowledge or clue of where she might have gone.
According to Sheriff Art Granado, "We've got to find closure for the family and we've got to find closure as well. We've got to find out what really happened to her, if she really ran away or something happened."
Sheriff Granado has been in office since 2013. He inherited his duties and the case from his predecessor.
"They went to bed about 11 o'clock p.m., that night. At 6 o'clock in the morning, they went to wake her up and she was not there," Granado recalled.
There were no signs of forced entry or foul play. Nothing seemed to be missing, either. That's strange, considering what family members told authorities.
"According to the aunt and uncle, she was an avid runner. She would run, all the time. They think, maybe, she went out running, that morning, and never came back," the sheriff explained.
There's something else that rings somewhat strangely, too.
"According to the facts, she left with only her nightgown and her bible. I think she was even barefooted," Granado added.
Monica's home was a couple of miles outside of town. The terrain out there, is rugged, rocks, cactus and thorn. Not a place you want to venture, at least, not without shoes.
Despite an exhaustive search, with the help of various state and national agencies, investigators came up with nothing. Sadly, the case went cold.
According to the sheriff, "There was a whole bunch of people. I think they brought some cadaver dogs. There were people on horseback, people on 4-wheelers, If I remember correctly."
Folks in Balmorhea say Monica was a bright, cheerful girl that everyone liked and got along with. So, there was no reason to think anyone would want to hurt her. There was, also, no reason to believe anything was bothering her, at least not to the point that she would just take off without telling anyone.
Sylvia Iniguez's daughter was Monica's close friend and classmate.
"We were concerned about her because she was getting really skinny." said Sylvia. "Then we heard that she was running a lot, that she would run in the mornings. After that, it's, all of the sudden, it's she's no longer here. They don't know where she's at, what happened to her, nothing."
Sylvia said the whole thing seem rather odd to her. She's also very critical of how law enforcement handled the original investigation.
"When somebody goes missing, they are right there, looking for her, concerned for her, which all of us were. But, it's just odd how they went about the situation."
Darla Harbour was once Monica's substitute teacher. She remembers the last time she saw her.
"The night before she disappeared she was Balmorhea School, for the orientation. She was there. She was happy to be there. She was with all her friends and she was very, very thin. I was told she was anorexic. I spoke with her. I said I was glad she was back in Balmorhea and the next thing I know, I see on the news that she's gone missing."
Monica was 16 when she disappeared. She'll be 29 on her next birthday, this December. In February, 2014, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children developed an age progression photo of what she might look like, more than a 10 years later.
More than a dozen years have passed and there's still no sign of Monica. Sheriff Granado decided it was time to reopen the case.
Unfortunately, it is no closer to being solved, today, than it was before. So, what's the sheriff's plan? It's simple. Go back to square one.
While they are glad to hear the case has been reopened, some Balmorhea residents are, somewhat skeptical. You might say this "new" investigation is asking more questions that it's answering.
"Where was square one to begin with?" asked Sylvia, "and the people that you're going to talk to, what have they got to say now? We have our own questions. We have our own opinions, but we can't really say because we don't know."
There are 3 possible outcomes to this case. As terrible as it is to consider, Monica may never be found. If she is found, the result could be good or bad. Her friends are ready, either way.
If you're still out there, I hope you have a family that loves you and that you're happy now," said Darla.
Sylvia says, "I don't think she is (alive). I really don't think she is. And if she is, i hope she's doing a whole lot better."
There's no doubt, somebody out there knows what happened to Monica Carrasco.