PROVO, Utah — It has been three weeks since a 26-year-old Mexican woman who was studying in Utah mysteriously went missing, and now police are raising the reward for help finding her to $15,000.
They are searching for Elena Laguna Salgado, of Chiapas, Mexico, who hasn't been seen or heard from since she left class at the Nomen Global Language Center in downtown Provo the afternoon of April 16.
Provo police say there is no evidence she was kidnapped, but they consider it worrisome that she hasn't made contact with anyone. They've been checking daily since her disappearance and have found no use of credit cards, social media or email — which is unusual for her, said Provo police Lt. Brandon Post.
"She just fell off the grid, which is very concerning," Post said.
Contributions from a local company and an unnamed person allowed police to increase the reward, which would be paid to somebody who comes forward with information that leads to finding Laguna Salgado.
Police have been receiving many tips and calls, but investigators still have no idea where Laguna Salgado is and they don't have persons of interest, Post said. They've also interviewed people who went to school or worked with her, he said.
"There's no evidence as to what happened to her," said Post, but he added, "It's far from being a cold case."
The woman's uncle, Rosemberg Salgado, is urging anyone with any information about his niece to call police — regardless of their immigration status in the United States. Post said police are focused on finding Laguna Salgado, not on turning people in for immigration violations.
"We are desperate," Salgado said in Spanish.
His niece had just finished a Mormon mission in Mexico and was living with roommates in Provo. She had only been in Utah one month and spoke very little English.
Her parents have traveled from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to be in Utah. They and former kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart have held news conferences begging people to help find the woman.
The family and other community members helping out have held volunteer searches and plan another one Saturday.
"We have faith that God will help us find her," Salgado said. "We have hope that we are going to find her soon."