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Search expanded for missing woman

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 2nd, 2011

Angelica Sandoval

MONTE VISTA — The Monte Vista Police Department is working with its Alamosa counterpart in a widening search for an Alamosa woman, missing since Feb. 23.

Police Chief Rick Needham said his officers have been following up on leads emerging from this community and worked especially hard the first day Angelica Sandoval was reported missing.

As time passes —it’s been a week today — concerns rise, and Needham said his officers will continue to seek the young woman in and around Monte Vista.

“Hopefully, they find her and, hopefully, she’s okay,” Needham said of the task force now seeking Sandoval and other authorities involved in the search.

Police have a set procedure when a person is reported missing, and they are following that procedure with the search for Sandoval.

“Every case is different, but there are procedures in place that fit all cases,” said Acting Alamosa Police Chief Robert Jackson, who said 10 to 20 leads per day have come in and followed up on.

Sandoval has not been seen since last Wednesday evening when she returned home from a laundromat and carried one load of laundry, her cell phone, and her one-year-old daughter into the house before going back to her car to get more laundry and her purse.

After she did not immediately return to the house, her brother reportedly went outside to check on her. Her purse was lying on the floor of her car and the car door was open. Sandoval was gone.

A young woman with love in her heart, especially for her young daughter, Sandoval had been posting on her Facebook wall regularly until 7:45 a.m. Feb. 23.

Jackson said one of the first acts undertaken in a missing persons case is to interview friends and family and follow up on all leads, but those have proven negative so far.      

Before Sandoval had been missing 24 hours the APD had formed a task force of four of their most experienced officers, led by former Monte Vista Police Lt. Duane Oakes, now a lieutenant with the Alamosa P.D.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been in on the case since day one and Jackson said they have begun to ratchet up their efforts.

Two FBI agents were in Alamosa March 25 and returned Tuesday.

Jackson said there have been lots of tips called in to CrimeStoppers, and all leads are still being followed. “So far none of the tips have been helpful, but you never know,” he said. “The next one could be the one.”

Police do not know if there is a connection, but Sandoval had been subpoenaed to testify today, Wednesday, March 2, against Jose Luiz Meraz, who allegedly broke into her home last year and is currently in the Alamosa County Detention Center.

Meraz is originally from Mexico and some leads have taken officers in that direction, but  “It’s just one other thing we are looking at,” Jackson said.

The father of Sandoval’s young daughter is in prison.

Sandoval’s family is hoping she will be returned to them unharmed, and they are searching on their own.

They have organized themselves into groups of three to five and have been systematically searching the entire San Luis Valley, from chico fields to dumpsters.

Because Sandoval disappeared without her cell phone and purse, and left behind a sick baby, her family is convinced she was kidnapped.

 “We’re worried,”said Acting Chief Jackson.

Everyone involved is hoping that somebody saw something and will come forward with information.

Friends and family are reportedly holding prayer vigils in front of Angelica’s apartment every night at 6:30 p.m.

Anyone with information about Sandoval should call the Alamosa Police Department at 589-2548, the Colorado State Patrol at 589-5807 or Crimestoppers at 589-4111 .

A reward is available to anyone providing information that leads to the location of Angelica or to the arrest of the person responsible for her disappearance. Anonymity can be assured.

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