Ruben Humberto Herrera

Left and Center: Ruben circa, 1983

Right: Age Progressed to age 49


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: April 27, 1983

Missing From: El Paso, El Paso County, Texas

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: January 31, 1969

Age: 14 years old

Height and Weight: 4’10” and 100 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Hispanic Male, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Ruben has a freckled complexion and his hair has a reddish tint to it, he may use the nickname “Ru” and some agencies refer to his middle name as “Roberto” or “Robert”

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A blue t-shirt and a pair of jeans

NCMEC Number: 764923


Details of Disappearance

Ruben was last seen in El Paso, Texas on April 27th 1983. He was abducted while he walked to Eastwood Knolls Elementary School. He never showed up for his daily classes and his mother reported his disappearance when he never returned home from school. A friend of Rubens recalled that he thought he had seen the boy running towards McRae Street around 5:30 pm. That’s the last confirmed sighting of him.

On the afternoon of Rubens disappearance, his maternal uncle, Miguel Zaragoza, received a ransom call which demanded $300,000 for the child’s safe return. The caller stated that Miguel and one of his brothers were to deliver the money at 9:00 pm the same night to a Denny’s restaurant located on the 400 block of north Mesa Street in El Paso, Texas. Miguel went to the Denny’s but did not mask contact with Rubens kidnapper(s).

Investigators believe that Zaragoza was the targeted person to pay the ransom because he ran a gasoline business and was wealthy. He lived in Juarez, Mexico. The caller told Miguel in Spanish that “the boy is all right” and used nicknames that only Ruben and his close relatives and friends would know.

Two days after Ruben’s abduction, a man called Miguel’s office in El Paso and said Ruben was in Juarez. He was told to go to two pay phone booths and wait for further instructions. When he received a phone call from one of the booths, the phone company was able to trace the call to a pay phone at the Revco Drug Store in the 6100 block of north Mesa.

FBI agents were sent to the location. They found a man known as Raymond Henry Acosta. He was the brother of Ruben’s stepfather and was speaking on the phone. He was arrested on a warrant for bank larceny out of the state of California. They searched the car he was driving and found a map which had instructions on it to leave the $300,000 in a cement pipe at the Quail Hollow Shopping Center on North Mesa Street.

Ruben was not with Acosta. He claimed that Ruben was dead but refused to reveal the location of his body or any co-conspirators in his abduction and ransom due to fear of retaliation against him and his family. Authorities suspect that Acosta made the ransom call from a pay phone and he may have taken Ruben to Mexico in his silver and green or possibly silver and black 1977 Cadillac Seville.

Rubens mother believes that Acosta was likely responsible for the attempted abduction of her elderly mother from her home. The attempted kidnapper broke into her home and tried to grab her. Her two grandsons interrupted the kidnapping and the persons fled. They did, however, leave chalked message behind which read “Don’t call police or I will kill her”. Acosta was never charged in connection to the attempted kidnapping.

In July of 1983, Raymond was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. He was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. In addition to his charges, a man named Mario Javier Martinez was arrested in January of 1984 and charged with demanding a $500,000 ransom from Miguel Zaragoza. He was released due to lack of evidence, however.

Raymond Acosta died while serving his sentence in 2012. Prior to his death, authorities interviewed and interrogated him once again and asked who else was involved with the plot to abduct Ruben in order to gain ransom. He didn’t name anyone else and stated his only role in the whole thing was to simply collect the ransom money. All of Rubens other relatives have been interviewed and investigated. They were all cleared as suspects in his disappearance.

In May of 2013, a man contacted the Colombian organization known as Fundación Papá por Siempre which is known in english as “Father for Life Foundation” and claimed he was Ruben. He told them he was poor and needed assistance in getting his immigration status settled. He stated he did not want to return to the United States and did not want to make contact with any of his relatives besides his sisters. He only wanted Rubens social security number and a street address for his relatives in El Paso.

The man also requested that authorities should stop looking for him and to discontinue listing him as a missing child. Fundación Papá por Siempre got into contact with a El Paso Newspaper and requested help with the matter. The person was put in tough with the El Paso Police Department. The individual was calling from an unspecified country in South America and he has not been confirmed to be Ruben.

Rubens mother has since died and his abduction remains unsolved. Rubens stepfather and two sisters are still living and hope to recover Ruben. Foul play is suspected.


Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

El Paso Police Department 915-564-7022


Source Information

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Charley Project

The Doe Network

NamUs