What happens when someone goes missing in Santa Maria? How long do police search for the person or where do they even start to find out where they could be?
“We put the dots together until we track those individuals down,” says Sgt. Russell Mengel, with the Santa Maria Police Department.
He says the police department has 191 missing person cases for 2016. Those cases revolve around all types of scenarios including runaways or people who may have moved or relocated and lost contact with their families. Of those 191 cases, 188 have returned or been located. 13 are still missing.
Iris Viviana Vargas has been missing since last September. For nearly nine months police have searched for her exhausted as many leads as possible to try and find her. She is referred to as a “missing juvenile at risk.” She is just one of many.
“With a missing person case our officers take the report return immediately and that’s entered into a national wide computer,” says Sgt. Mengel.
But, what happens once a person has been missing for weeks, months or years? “If there’s nothing that comes up it goes into suspended and then we are just waiting for something to crack and we are looking for that next lead to follow up on,” says Srgt. Mengel.
NOTE: Our original story had slightly different statistical numbers in missing persons cases that the Santa Maria Police Department deemed inaccurate upon a second look. We have now updated this article to reflect those new numbers provided to KCOY 12 by the Santa Maria Police Department.