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Missing man’s family member suspects foul play

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Missing man’s family member suspect foul play

Sara MacNeil/News-Sun

A man who hadn’t left El Paso since he was a child drove to Hobbs for a construction job June 21 and disappeared three days later.

Four months after he went missing, Jorge Alberto Sanchez, 26, hasn’t been found and his aunt, who raised him, is left with more questions than answers.

“I don’t know what to believe at this point. I’m afraid something bad happened. I know something did because he’s not here,” Sanchez’s aunt, Lourdes Rodriguez, of El Paso, said through tears.

According to Rodriguez, authorities aren’t as suspicious about the disappearance as she is. New Mexico State Police have the case and El Paso police are assisting with the investigation. Rodriguez said New Mexico State Police found no evidence of foul play.

“I will look into a status of this case for you,” Public Information Officer Ray Wilson wrote late Wednesday after the Hobbs News-Sun asked if state police had stopped working on the Sanchez case.

“Investigators said he wants to be missing. He would not just disappear. We know he would call,” Rodriguez said. “His kids were everything. He grew up with no dad and he didn’t want the kids to be without a dad. He said it so many times.”

Rodriguez said authorities may assume he’s affiliated with a gang because Sanchez is a person of color and has a lot of tattoos.

“He’s not gang-related. He was always with family. He doesn’t even drink,” Rodriguez said.

Sanchez is Hispanic with brown eyes and black hair. He’s 5-feet-11-inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. He has a tattoo with Chinese letters on one arm and a tattoo of a lion’s face with octopus arms on the other. On his chest, he has a tattoo of a dragon with a flower.

Sanchez’s wife hired a private investigator to look for him because state police said they aren’t looking for him anymore, Rodriguez said.

Eydie Prado, Border Blue Protective and Investigative Services of El Paso, took the case and she’s interviewed at least seven people in Hobbs and at least 15 people total.

Prado said she doesn’t have any suspects and she hasn’t determined whether Sanchez ever left Hobbs.

Sanchez drove to Hobbs for a temporary roofing job with an El Paso-based construction company and only worked two days on the project before he disappeared. He took photographs of the town as soon as he arrived and sent the pictures to family members to update them on his trip.

Sanchez wanted to come home from day one but he was struggling with a car payment and his kids needed diapers, Rodriguez said.

He called his wife from the hotel the day before he was last seen and told her he missed her and their three children — a 9-month-old, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

Sanchez never got his paycheck for those two full days of work and co-workers thought he returned to El Paso when he didn’t show up for the rest of the week. Sanchez’s co-workers saw him June 21 and that’s the last time anyone is known to have seen him.

A June 21 outgoing text message from a family member to Sanchez was marked “seen” around midnight, but he never replied.

Rodriguez said a semi-truck driver spotted someone flagging down cars June 22 on Highway 190. The driver called police and when Ozona, Texas authorities responded two hours later, the man was no longer in the area but officers found Sanchez’s car, which he bought early this year.

The vehicle was abandoned and out of gas on Highway 190 between Iraan, Texas and Ozona, Texas. The car hadn’t been reported missing because Rodriguez hadn’t filed a missing person report on Sanchez until June 24 when she realized no one had seen him for three days.

Rodriguez said officers believe Sanchez was picked up, but Rodriguez said he wasn’t the type to take a ride from a stranger. She said he could have collapsed out of dehydration walking in the desert or somebody has seen him and they’re afraid to come forward.

“Anything is possible. It’s been really hard not knowing what happened,” she said. “We need to know where he is.”

Since Sanchez went missing, Rodriguez has been driving hours away from El Paso nearly every weekend looking for him, passing out flyers in different areas Sanchez may have been seen. She’s gone to Ozona, Midland, and Odessa, Texas, and Hobbs.

“It’s expensive going every weekend. I can’t afford it anymore,” Rodriguez said. “We really are asking for help because we can’t do it alone. If the authorities are not going to do it, we can do it as a community. We aren’t giving up.”

Anyone with information on Sanchez can call New Mexico State Police at 575-382-2500.

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