Discovery of missing woman highlights adult disappearances

SAPD investigating nearly 60 open cases

SAN ANTONIO – The discovery of 28-year-old Bianca Jimenez's body Wednesday highlights the reality that the search for the missing is not always confined to children.

"Adults go missing a lot of times and a lot of times families don't know what to do because their adult is missing," said Crystal Calloway, executive director of the Heidi Search Center.

Jimenez's case was one of nearly 60 currently being investigated by the San Antonio Police Department's Missing Persons Unit. Her body was discovered on the city's Southeast Side, and police believe she was the victim of foul play.

But there is another category of missing adults-- those who simply choose to walk away from their lives.

For example, Leanne Bearden disappeared in February. She left without taking any of her personal belongings. Her body was found several weeks later. Police said she committed suicide. Absent of any physical evidence, differentiating between a person who was taken against their will and someone who chose to leave on their own can be difficult for investigators.

"Basically we go with the information that we preliminarily get from the reporting person," said SAPD spokesman Officer Douglas Greene. "From there we start our investigation. Where was the person last seen? What places do they frequent?"

But regardless of the circumstances surrounding their disappearance Green said missing persons detectives won't rest until they find the person they're looking for.

"If someone is missing we are actively going to look for them until they are found," he said. "We've even had some cases where we found a missing person who then tells us he or she does not want to be contacted by family members."

Over the past three years the Missing Persons Unit has handled nearly 1,500 adult cases.

The statistics surrounding missing adults were enough for the Heidi Search Center to change it's 24-year-old mission statement to include adults. Like detectives, Calloway said her staff does not care how or why someone disappeared.

"Whether they walked off or they were abducted, we just want to be a resource," Calloway said.