August marks 30 years since disappearances of Heidi Seeman, Erica Botello

Former Heidi Search Center president shares memories, still hopes for justice in cold cases

SAN ANTONIO – Tuesday marks 30 years since 11-year-old Heidi Seeman disappeared on the city’s North Side.

Just weeks later, 7-year-old Erica Botello was abducted from the front of her South Side apartment complex.

Two days later their bodies were found miles apart.

Their cases were deemed unrelated, but to this day, neither of them have been solved.

August 1990 was a month that changed San Antonio forever.

1990 kidnapping, murder of two San Antonio girls still unsolved

“At the time it was the largest search in FBI history. At one point I know we had over 8,000 volunteers. I helped work at the command post and delivered the flyers to different places,” said original volunteer Vanessa Tate, who later served as Heidi Search Center president.

Tate remembers every detail of the days following Heidi’s disappearance.

“She was abducted about 3 miles from where we were,” she said.

Tate personally made thousands of flyers and saw law enforcement, the military and the community work together to find Heidi.

Weeks into the search, another little girl, 7-year-old Erica Botello, disappeared and the crews searching for Heidi joined the search for Erica.

“Although the cases weren’t related, both girls were found on the same day, which was August 25,” Tate said.

The girls had a joint funeral as the community joined in hopes that the killers would be found.

“I stayed involved the whole time. Then I got involved with the center itself,” Tate said, speaking about the Heidi Search Center.

The Heidi Search Center was created soon after and was named after Heidi Seeman. Tate was president for seven years, helping families of missing children access resources.

“Everything was free at the center. We didn’t charge families. When you consider the center was open for 27 years, without a doubt we helped millions of families because we would get requests from all over the world,” she said.

Sadly, the center closed in 2018 due to a lack of funding.

That’s why Tate said it’s more important than ever to remember the girls whose cases are still cold 30 years later.

“I even named my daughter after Heidi,” Tate said. “Just to keep her memory alive in some way shape of form.”

She still stays in touch with investigators and the Seeman family.

“It affected everyone. It doesn’t matter who you were. If you were here in San Antonio, you know these cases,” she said through tears. “It’s hard because it’s been so long and you want to hold out hope.”

Heidi’s family released a statement Tuesday to KSAT saying, “The family still holds onto hope that one day Heidi’s killer will be brought to justice.”

If you have any information about the Heidi Seeman or Erica Botello case, you can call the San Antonio Police Department Cold Case Tip Line at 210-207-7401.

About the Author

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

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