A dozen people still missing in Yakima County

A dozen people still missing in Yakima County »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A missing person's case can leave a family in a nightmare of limbo, not knowing what happened and not getting any closure. It doesn't happen often in Yakima County, but cases like Larry Riegel remain unsolved to this day.

He's gone, but he's everywhere. Albums, walls, and computer screens full of memories. Of a man CeCe Downey ranks above almost everyone.

"I've lost two husbands and I'd rather lose 100 husbands than lose one son," said Downey. "It's the worst nightmare you can imagine."

It's been more than two years since her son, Larry Riegel, seemed to simply disappear. Larry's family assumes he's dead, but they'd still like to know what happened.

The Yakima County Sheriff's Office and Yakima Police Department detectives see about 250 missing person's cases each year. Most of those are solved quickly. One like Larry Riegel is rare.

"This is not something that happens all the time here in Yakima," said Yakima Police Captain Rod Light. "There's very few long standing cases out there that haven't been resolved."

But those few cases still leave families hoping for answers. KIMA learned the Yakima Sheriff's office has six open missing person's cases. The oldest dates back to 1978. The most recent involves Jesus Gus Rodriguez reported missing in 2005 after his car was found burned on Summitview Road.

The Yakima Police Department also has six open cases of its own, including Larry's. Joseph John was the most recent open case. It closed when his body turned up in a Granger Canal.

Leaving moms like CeCe to wait on the one tip that will forever answer the toughest questions.

"You don't know if they're under that pile of straw, under that pile of manure, if they're in the river," said Downey. "Your looking all the time and you don't know."


OPEN MISSING PERSON'S CASES IN YAKIMA COUNTY

Yakima County Sheriff's Office

- John D. Whitner, 48, was reported missing in January 1995 by family members who said they had not seen him for weeks.

- Roger M. Seawright, 34, of Toppenish was reported missing in July 1998 after he didn't return from a store to get ice.

- Reyes S. Macias, 42, of Selah was reported missing in July 1999. Family members said they left their house briefly and that he was gone when they returned.

- David W. Door, 39, of Terrace Heights was reported missing in October 2001 after his empty boat was found floating in Lake Chelan.

- Linda M. Adams, 15, a chronic runaway, went missing from Pomona Road in Yakima in 1978, but her disappearance wasn't reported until 2004, at the request of the Green River Task Force.

- Jesus Gus Rodriguez, 35, was reported missing after his burned car was found on Jan. 23, 2005, in an orchard on Summitview Road. His remains were not found in the car.

Yakima Police Department Cases

- Kathleen R. Paulson, 52, a transient, was reported missing by family in 2004.

- Sally Stromberg, 51, a transient, went missing some time in 2005.

- Gregory L. Holt, 58, lived on Fairbanks Avenue, reported missing in February 2008 by his landlord.

- Jose Ortega Jimenez, 26, worked as a laborer in Naches. Fellow workers reported that he ran from the work site in March 2008, and no one has seen him since.

- Juan L. Hernandez, 28, reported missing in July 2009 by family who said they had not heard from him for two months.

- Larry Riegel, 57, disappeared from his home the evening of Christmas Day 2009. He was supposed to have dinner that night with his family.