PROVO — Loved ones and investigators are adamant that the search for an English language student who vanished in Provo three years ago has not been closed, but they remain desperate for new leads in the investigation.
Elizabeth Elena Laguna Salgado had been in Utah just three weeks, coming to study the language after completing an LDS mission, when she disappeared walking home from school in the middle of the day. No explanation for the disappearance, which police immediately treated as suspicious, has ever been found.
"As of today we don't have a single lead that could lead us to finding my niece," the woman's uncle, Rosemberg Salgado, said Friday in a press conference ahead of the three-year anniversary of her disappearance. He spoke on behalf of the woman's ailing parents, who have since returned to Mexico, and their close-knit family.
"We ask you to treat this case like she was your own family member. If Elizabeth Elena was your niece, you would want the whole world to help you look for her," he emphasized.
Elizabeth Salgado was last seen leaving class at the Nomen Global Language Center, 384 W. Center, on April 16, 2015. She never made it back to her home just 2 miles away at the Branbury Apartments, 449 W. 1720 North, and ceased communications with her family, with whom she spoke frequently.
Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King reported that investigators are still focused on Elizabeth Salgado's case, including recently assigning a new detective, Nick Patterson, to review everything police know so far with fresh eyes. A reward for information is still in place.
"I want you to know this is not a closed case," King said. "We hope that someone with actual knowledge of Elizabeth's whereabouts will come forward."
Investigators have gone far beyond Provo in their search, King said. They have gone to her hometown in Mexico, to the areas where she served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to other locations that have come up during the investigation.
"We have reached out all over the world," King said, emphasizing that thousands of hours of interviews have been conducted.
A recently unsealed search warrant reveals investigators have also petitioned Google for saved search history information and map searches from Elizabeth Salgado's phone, which has never been found.
"This information may provide additional information as to the whereabouts of Elizabeth," the warrant states. "This information would determine if her phone has been turned on, reactivated and the location of her phone. This information would also give a possible history of location of her phone from when she went missing to current day."
Rosemberg Salgado was joined for the press conference by Ed Smart, father of child kidnapping survivor and advocate Elizabeth Smart, who emphasized the importance of keeping Elizabeth Salgado's name and face in the public eye.
"It's remembering who she is, what she looks like, in those eyes of the public. That's key to finding her," Smart said. "We're three years down the road now, and we need everyone's help to bring leads the law enforcement can follow up on."
Smart put his arm around Rosemberg Salgado as the two answered questions together. Smart and his family have been lending encouragement, support and publicity to Elizabeth Salgado's loved ones ever since the woman's disappearance.
"We know what it's like to lose a daughter, and you need all the help you can get," Smart said.
As he has for the past three years, Rosemberg Salgado urged members of the Latino community in particular not to be afraid of approaching police to share anything they may know about his niece.1 comment on this story
"The Provo Police Department is more concerned about finding Elizabeth Elena, they are not concerned about your legal status," Rosemberg Salgado. "I want to ask the community to please keep helping us."
Loved ones of Elizabeth Salgado are also urging the public to share her photo on social media in hopes of spreading awareness. Ed Smart suggested that #FindElizabethSalgado may be a good hashtag to include.
Anyone with information about Elizabeth Salgado can call Provo police at 801-852-6210.