SALT LAKE CITY — It's been nearly 25 years since David Jaramillo was last seen. Last month, his family decided it was time to try to get some closure, so they placed a headstone for him in a local cemetery.
A month later, Salt Lake police called to say they were reopening his case.
"I thought maybe it was a message from David. Is David making this happen?" was the reaction from Jaramillo's brother, Paul Jaramillo.
The Salt Lake Police Department's cold case and missing persons unit is taking a fresh look at the case of the two young men who disappeared on June 3, 1985.
On that day, 21-year-old David Jaramillo and 14-year-old Lloyd Reese left Reese's home, 173 E. 1700 South, with two other friends to go to East Canyon Reservoir. At some point during their outing, Jaramillo and Reese became separated from the other two. Because no one at that time owned a cell phone, the two other friends had to drive back down the canyon before calling police to report them missing.
Since then, investigators have found no trace of Jaramillo or Reese. The case is officially listed as a missing persons investigation. Detectives have no clues as to whether the duo were the victims of criminal activity or fell victim to an accident.
"I pray constantly for him. That's the only thing that's kept me together I think," Reese's mother, Marsha Clarke, said Friday. "Down deep in my heart, I keep thinking he's going to walk through the door. I don't want to think he's gone."
Reese was the boy who liked to help people in his neighborhood, his family said. And when his friends were looking for a place to hang out, they always went to his house. Reese loved rock music like Ted Nugent, Aerosmith and AC/DC, and had all kinds of friends, his family said, which is why it wasn't unusual for him to hang out with a 21-year-old man.
The last family member to see Reese was his sister, Thunder Buist, now 31, who was 7 when her brother went missing.
"Right before he left, he got me a candy bar, set me on the back of the car, told me he loved me and he'd be right back. We never heard from him again," she said.
"He was a great kid. I miss him. I think about him every day," said Reese's father, Darrell Reese.
Because Salt Lake City had such a low murder rate last year, Sgt. Robin Snyder said homicide investigators have had more time to devote to cold cases and missing person cases. Although there is no new evidence in the Reese and Jaramillo case, Snyder said detectives believe it is solvable.
Because there are witnesses who are still alive, family members are still around to help, and with the advancement in DNA technology, Snyder said investigators feel confident about reaching a resolution in the case.
Friday, Jaramillo's brother and mother met Reese's family for the first time at the police department's Pioneer Precinct, 1040 W. 700 South. They hugged and shared tears as they talked about their missing loved ones.
"We've never forgotten," Paul Jaramillo told Clarke. "It's painful. It's hit me so many times over the years."
David Jaramillo was going to college when he disappeared.
"He had his whole life in front of him," Paul Jaramillo said. "I just feel like someone knows something. All these years, we've never given up hope."
Both families said because of the ongoing investigation, detectives have given them little additional information other than that the case has been reopened. But that is enough for now, to give them renewed hope.
"There was either an accident or they were the victims of some sicko out there. Why them? They didn't harm anyone," Paul Jaramillo said. "If somebody did something, I want justice."
If anyone has information about the disappearance of Reese or Jaramillo, they can call police at 801-799-3000.
"It's the smallest piece of information that could bring closure to these families," said detective Mike Hamideh, who is leading the current review of the case. "Even strangers who spent time in East Canyon in June of 1985 may know something that seemed like nothing at the time but could be the key to their disappearance."