WALSENBURG – A Walsenburg family is still searching for clues in the disappearance of a man they haven’t heard from in more than a year.
34-year-old Michael Sanchez was last seen in December 2017.
There are few “missing” posters of the 34-year-old that still remain in store windows around town.
And, even fewer clues have been uncovered over the last year as to where he is.
“He’s here somewhere. He’s being hid somewhere,” said Sanchez’s brother, Jesse Sanchez.
Sanchez’s family believes foul play was involved.
“He was close to us. He would never have left on his own,” his grandmother, Rose Sanchez, told News5.
The Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office has similar suspicions.
“We actually believe it probably is some type of a homicide. If it was intentional or accidental–we’re not sure of that,” said Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman.
“The easiest thing would be to locate a body and try and determine–was it a drug overdose? Was he shot? Was he beaten? There’s so many different scenarios that play out,” he added.
But without any evidence, the case remains the longest unsolved missing persons case in more than three decades.
“If it’s the longest case, then there’s a reason why. That’s the question we’re asking is why aren’t we getting any help from them?” said Jesse Sanchez.
Colorado sits at #24 in the nation, for the highest missing persons rate-with 293 open missing persons cases. It comes out to about 5.2 missing persons per 100,000 people.
Michael Sanchez is the only case in all of Huerfano County.
“It’s hard driving through town wondering where he is,” said Jesse Sanchez.
Sanchez’s family says they’ve spent countless hours following up on leads and rumors.
“We’ve been clear out to Gardner, to Pueblo–all the way out to Hoehne…” Rose Sanchez recalled.
Nothing came of any of their searches.
“The boys went out on ATV’s and just searched all over–just looking for something. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Sanchez added.
After watching the Kelsey Berreth missing persons case go national, the Sanchez family wondered why their loved one wasn’t getting the same media attention or–in their eyes—the same assistance from their local law enforcement.
“Every place you go, she’s on there. And Michael has had nothing. As far as the Sheriffs are concerned–we don’t hear from them. They said they’re still active, but they don’t let us know,” Rose Sanchez told News5.
Sheriff Bruce Newman says unlike the Kelsey Berreth case, his agency has no crime scene to investigate.
“We have no criminal evidence. We have nothing other than rumors right now,” said Newman.
He tells News5 his team has followed up on every lead in the case, but none of them have led to arrests.
“We’ve probably searched every abandoned house in this town. Any place there’s been a rumor–if it was along the river, under bridges, along the railroad tracks. We’ve had officers on ATV’s and out on foot.”
The Sanchez family continues to put faith in their own investigation, though.
“He needs some kind of justice for us and our families,” said Sanchez’s sister, Brittni Sanchez.
During their interview with News5, the family returned to the first place they searched for Michael, back in December 2017–off of Main Street, near the Anchor Motel.
“We were hoping to find anything at that point–any kind of answers,” said Jesse.
Now, they’re just desperate to find Sanchez’s body.
“When that person was found in Aguilar, you prayed it was him,” Rose Sanchez said, with tears in her eyes. “And at the same time, you prayed that it wasn’t because it’s so awful. But we want to find him no matter what and just lay him to rest.”
Sheriff Newman says they do have some new information, but they’re going to have to wait for more snow to melt before they can go out and do these particular searches.
If you have any information, you are encouraged to contact the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office at 719-738-1600