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The Disappearance of Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado

The Disappearance of Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado

Case Update

Hello, my loyal true crime readers. On May 18th, 2018 Elizabeth’s body was located in Utah. Although this means the search for Elizabeth is over, the quest for justice continues. 

For background details about the case, I suggest that you read my initial post below this italicized update and then return here to learn more.

Elizabeth’s body was located on May 18th, 2018 by a man walking in Hobble Creek Canyon.

The wooded, mountainous area where Elizabeth was found is a popular area for campers, fisherpersons, and hikers. Hobble Creek Canyon is roughly thirteen miles from where Elizabeth was last seen in downtown Provo, Utah.

The authorities are keeping the exact location of Elizabeth’s remains to themselves, as the case is being actively investigated; however, they have explained that Elizabeth was found some distance off of the trail and road and her body was not placed in any kind of grave. It has come to light that deputies unknowingly drove by the location where Elizabeth’s body was found dozens of times during the course of their investigation. I can’t even imagine how frustrating of a realization that must have been. 

The police have confirmed that Elizabeth’s death is being investigated as a homicide. Elizabeth’s skeletal remains were identified by dental records, and the medical examiner is trying to determine a cause of death. This is not easy, though, given the fact that Elizabeth’s body appears to have been out in the elements for years. So far, the medical examiner has been able to surmise that blunt force trauma does not appear to be the cause of death.

Elizabeth’s case is far from closed until her killer is caught and convicted. Let’s keep spreading the word about this case and help get Elizabeth and her loved ones at least some sense of justice.  

~ Christine

Case File Overview

On April 16th, 2015, 26-year-old Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado disappeared. She had been in Provo, Utah for less than a month to attend English classes at the Nomen Global Language Center, located at 384 W. Center Street. When Elizabeth left the school, she texted her sister in Mexico to let her know that she was on her way home.

Three of Elizabeth’s classmates saw her making her way along busy 400 West Street, and the police reported that the last location that her cellphone pinged was from a tower near the school and her apartment.

After that Thursday, Elizabeth failed to attend school or to work her shifts as a server at the Mexican restaurant El Huarache Sabroson.

Countless volunteers searched for Elizabeth, and the FBI, Homeland Security, and Interpol assisted the local police. Although hundreds of tips and numerous persons of interest were investigated, Elizabeth remains missing.

Photo of missing person Elizabeth Elena Laguna Salgado
Source: Missing Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado Facebook page

When she disappeared, Elizabeth was 26 years old, 5-foot-5-inches (168 centimetres), and approximately 120 to 125 pounds (54-57 kilograms). She had long black hair and brown eyes. Elizabeth “was last seen wearing a denim jacket, blue jeans and black or brown knee-high boots, and was carrying a denim handbag with red straps.” 

Case File Theories

Ran off to start a new life

After Elizabeth first vanished, the authorities did not discount the idea that she may have willingly disappeared to start a new life in the US. As time passes, though, this becomes less and less of a possibility. Elizabeth was in close contact with her family, contacting them at least once a day. Moreover, since she vanished there has been zero activity on Elizabeth’s cellphone, social media accounts, credit cards, and bank account. When the police searched the apartment that she shared with two roommates, they discovered Elizabeth’s passport and her other identification. Taking all of the above into consideration, as well as the fact that Elizabeth spoke little English, I find it hard to believe that she willingly disappeared, or has successfully avoided the police for years.

Abducted by a stranger

Elizabeth had a consistent routine that involved school, church, and exercise. This would make it easy for someone to follow her movements and plan an abduction. Elizabeth had an extremely small social circle in the US. Although she was repeatedly asked by her classmates to attend social events, Elizabeth always declined. She was described as shy and reserved in social situations, but active on social media. Was Elizabeth abducted by a stranger while walking home from school or by someone she met online? Maybe. Even though all known sex offenders in the area were thoroughly interviewed and at least preliminarily cleared, one of them, or someone as yet unknown to the police, could have been involved.

Elizabeth Smart and her father Ed have become active in Elizabeth’s case in the hopes that they can assist with keeping her name in the media. Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 when she was just 14 years old. She was held captive for 9 months before she was rescued. Her kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, received a life sentence for his crime. Ed has suggested to the media that Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado may have been abducted by sex traffickers.

Although it is possible that Elizabeth was abducted by a stranger on her way home from school, I find it hard to believe that she was abducted in broad daylight along her regular route home. The police stated that her route had a lot of vehicular and foot traffic in the middle of the day and explained that “the fact that we didn’t receive any calls about a suspicious incident at the time she disappeared is baffling.” To me, this makes it improbable that Elizabeth was abducted by a stranger, but I guess someone could have seen something and was afraid to report it, or did not realize the gravity of what they were witnessing.

Abducted by someone in her inner circle

Elizabeth could have been kidnapped by someone she knew. In fact, this is quite probable given that cellphone evidence indicated that she “spent most of her life between her apartment, the school, and work.” Rosemberg Salgado, one of Elizabeth’s uncles, stated that “his niece had complained recently about a young man in her English class, who was constantly asking her to go out with him.” It was said that the young man was “aggressive” in his advances. The police, however, interviewed the person of interest and nothing materialized from the lead. Also, Elizabeth was shy but trusting, and her family and friends have said that they could imagine her getting into the vehicle of someone she knew from school or church. The authorities, however, investigated Elizabeth’s friends, current and former roommates, students and teachers at her school, and members of her church. No specific persons of interest were identified from these efforts.

In the summer of 2015 there was a strange turn of events. Former volunteers who had participated in the search for Elizabeth told the media that they had quit the search due to their suspicions about Elizabeth’s uncles: Rosemberg and Rudemberth Salgado, the brothers of Elizabeth’s mother Libertad Salgado Figueroa. The volunteers think that the uncles know more than they are saying about Elizabeth’s disappearance, and have accused the uncles of caring more about the thousands of dollars being raised by Elizabeth’s disappearance than actually finding their niece. Rumour has it that either one or both of her uncles sold Elizabeth into sex trafficking or are hiding her against her will to profit from her disappearance. Both of Elizabeth’s uncles deny any involvement.

My first instinct was to cast aside these seemingly malicious rumours. However, also in the summer of 2015 the Provo police denied Elizabeth’s two uncles access to their weekly family briefings on the case. The police explained, “Our investigation has encountered some incongruences. And until we can reconcile those, the uncles are not invited back into the family meetings.” After this, I am left seriously wondering if Rosemberg and Rudemberth Salgado were involved in Elizabeth’s disappearance.

What do you think happened to Elizabeth?

Elizabeth’s loved ones refuse to give up hope. Her mother, Libertad Edith Salgado, stated, “My daughter came with a lot of joy and a lot of happiness. I never opposed her coming to the US. The only thing I don’t understand is why this has to happen.” Please spread the word about this case and help Elizabeth’s family find at least some sense of closure.

A $50,000 reward is being offered in this case. Anyone with information about Elizabeth is asked to call the Provo Police Department detective division at 801-852-6255.

Related reading

“Utah woman’s disappearance remains a mystery three years after she vanished in Provo”The Salt Lake Tribune article

“More Elizabeth Salgado search volunteers question her uncles” – Good4Utah article

“Elizabeth Smart asks for ‘time, attention and prayers’ to help find missing Utah woman”People article

Missing Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado – Facebook page

“Skeletal remains found in Utah canyon ID’d as long-missing woman Elizabeth Salgado”CBS News article

“Missing Provo woman’s body found 3 years later, but ‘the investigation is not finished,’ police say”The Salt Lake Tribune article

Interested in missing person cases? Check out the disappearance of Brittany Stalman and the mysterious vanishing of Jodi Huisentruit.

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2 Comments

  1. Grace Patterson Grace Patterson

    I feel this is one of the hardest cases to solve. Disappearing without a trace leaves no forensic evidence. Because Elizabeth’s timeline never fluctuates, it very well could be a person she is familiar with and trusts. I also feel it could be that she was abducted for human trafficking. Only takes a few seconds to force someone into your vehicle without being noticed. This has been done many times in view of many people without being noticed. Hopefully this family finds the answers and if anyone does know anything, they will come forward.

    • Christine Christine

      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment! Great insights. It’s definitely a hard case to solve, and I think it’s very odd and unsettling that she disappeared from a busy area in broad daylight. I’m siding with someone she knows who could easily get her into their vehicle, but you never know. As you mentioned, it doesn’t take long for a stranger to grab someone. Here’s hoping her loved ones can find some answers soon!

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