Esther Valdez

Left and Center: Esther circa, 1984

Right: Age Progressed to age 49

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: September 7, 1984

Missing From: Chama, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico

Classification: Endangered Missing

Date Of Birth: March 26, 1967

Age: 17 years old

Height and Weight: 4’11” and 110 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Hispanic Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Esther has burn scars under her right arm and on the right side of her neck, one of her ears is pierced and her first name might be spelled as “Ester”

NCMEC Number: 1086978

Details of Disappearance

Esther was last seen in Chama, New Mexico on September 7th 1984. After school that day, Esther and her best friend, Cindy Garcia, went to the Branding Iron Restaurant where they worked as dishwashers and picked up their pay checks and they then drank Whiskey that they persuaded someone to buy for them.

They also went the visit the grave of Esther’s deceased baby sister who died several years before 1984. She and Garcia went during the night. At the grave, Esther told Garcia how she was tired of hurting her mother and father and how much she loved them. They then ended up with other friends at some point that night.

Garcia stated she left Esther talking with a man. At approximately midnight, Esther returned to Garcia’s home with an older man. They both invited Garcia to go camping with them but she refused and Esther left with the older man in his Bronco. She was never seen or heard from again after this.

A few days after Esther went missing, her wallet was found in Chama. Garcia states she knew the man that Esther was last seen with and she saw him the following Sunday after Esther’s disappearance. She asked him where she was and he claimed that he left Esther at Garcia’s house.

She reportedly got into an argument with the man 4 days after she saw him and she knew his statement about leaving Esther at her home was a lie. The man then said “It wasn’t me; I wasn’t the one that killed her.” She went to police with what he said but they didn’t seem to believe her statements and the man soon moved to Texas.

Investigators have also considered that Esther’s disappearance might’ve had something to do with her testimony in the trial of a bar owner as she was due to appear as a witness at the trial. The owner had been sited for allowing Esther into Ben’s Lounge when she was underage. She went missing before the trial could take place.

Investigators have found no evidence that her disappearance has anything to do with her testimony. In the years since her disappearance, her family has received numerous tips from people which state that Esther was murdered at a party at the bar on the night of her disappearance.

Accounts differ as to how she was killed but some state her neck was broken and that she was buried or thrown down a well on a property which was later found to have been rented by friends of Esthers at the time. Cadaver dogs were brought into search and hit on two spots but found nothing.

Another account states that Esther was struck on the back of the head by a bat or wooden stake. None of the tips have led to any significant finds in Esthers missing persons case. Garcia does not believe Esther even went to the bar that night since she saw her a majority of the night.

At the time of her disappearance, Esther was the eldest of 5 younger siblings and she had dreams of becoming a beautician when she graduated high school. She was known to drink occasionally and she also dated older men. Esther previously ran away from home but she’s never stayed away for this long.

Esther’s disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is possible in the case. There have been reported sightings of her in Colorado and the New Mexico cities of Albuquerque and Farmington since her disappearance but none have been confirmed and she’s never been found.

Investigating Agency

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

New Mexico State Police 505-827-9300

Source Information

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Charley Project

The Doe Network


Albuquerque Journal