JAL — The Lea County Sheriff’s Office recently joined the search for a Jal woman who went missing more than eight months ago.
Angela “Angel” LaDawn Kelton-McManes, 44, was last seen on May 13, 2019. Because she was known to travel unexpectedly for long periods, she wasn’t reported missing until mid-June.
Jal Police Detective Mary Montez said various rumors in the city are false, but did not elaborate on the nature of the rumors.
“Those are just rumors. The sheriff’s office has come down to help with the investigation,” Montez told the News-Sun. “They went back to the (McManes’) house to do some follow up, to make sure we didn’t miss anything, and that just got the rumor mill going down here. But there hasn’t been any update or anything.”
The missing woman’s sister Kris Kelton, who has had custody of McManes’ three children since before the disappearance, explained the delay in reporting her absence.
“She had erratic visits where she would go stay with relatives and friends. So, in the beginning, we didn’t realize she was really missing until some time had passed,” Kelton told the News-Sun.
When her children, who reside with Kelton, went to McManes’ house to retrieve some of their personal effects, they realized something was amiss.
“The night before the report was made to police,” Montez told the News-Sun in July, “the children went into their mother’s house after not hearing from her for some time to retrieve some of their belongings from within the home, when they noticed possessions that Angel would not leave home without.”
The detective reported the children found items that included McManes’ only bra, diabetic medication, money, her glasses, cigarettes, her cell phone and other personal items she would not be expected to travel without.
“We started calling around, trying to get hold of all kinds of family and friends in Texas, Colorado, everywhere we could possibly think she could be,” Kelton said. “That came back saying no, no, no. That’s when we decided to report her to the Jal PD as missing.”
With the Sheriff’s Office taking over the investigation earlier this month, Kelton added, “We’re thankful every day for the Sheriff’s Office.”
Deputy Vivian Martinez, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said, “We have requested all evidence be transferred from the Jal Police Department. Once we receive that evidence, the investigators will carefully review it. This is an ongoing investigation in its preliminary stage.”
The missing woman, who lived alone, was described as a white female, 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 90-100 pounds, with hazel eyes and dyed black short hair.
After more than six months of searching for her sister, Kelton said the strain is hard on the family.
“It’s strange, now. Her son graduated high school at the end of May. She missed her middle daughter’s 13th birthday,” Kelton said. “There’s just a lot of things that happened that she wouldn’t have missed regardless of where she was or what she was doing.”
Kelton, Montez and Martinez all hope somebody in the public has some information to give.
“We just want some answers, just to know something, anything, good, bad or ugly,” Kelton said.
According to Montez, Lea County Crime Stoppers has offered a reward for information leading to resolution of the missing person case.
“Absolutely, we’re still in need of information,” Montez said. Martinez added, “I will be posting a request for assistance from the public on our social media platforms and our app.”
Anyone with information regarding the missing person case may contact Lea County Crime Stoppers at 575-393-8005 or the Lea County Sheriff’s Office at 575-396-3611.