What happened to this missing North State girl?
Claudialy Estrella Villalobos Cardenas, a 15-year-old Hamilton City resident whose nickname is Little, walked out to her front yard on Main Street last Thursday evening (Sept. 6) and hasn’t been heard from since. As of Wednesday morning, officials from the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office had few clues as to the whereabouts of the teenager.
“Her family saw her walk outside, and she didn’t come back in, so they went outside to see what she’s was doing, and she was gone,” said Undersheriff Rich Warren of the teen’s disappearance.
Cardenas’ elder sister, Judith, told investigators that Cardenas had been on her computer just prior to exiting her home at about 7:45 p.m. She reported her sister missing at about 10:30 p.m., after spending close to two hours looking for her, including seeing if she’d been spotted by neighbors.
Warren said Cardenas’ cell phone was found in front of her home, but he noted that she had two phones, and that the one found did not work. He also said that investigators had talked to neighbors who reportedly had seen a bag packed with Cardenas’ clothes outside of the home.
“At this point we’re not ruling anything out, but it appears as though she made plans to leave and did so voluntarily,” said Warren.
But Judith Cardenas does not believe her sister ran away, saying that would be extremely out of character. She explained that the phone the investigators found lying in the street was indeed missing its SIM card, but she noted that it was an expensive, newly purchased smartphone that Cardenas always carried.
“She was very attached to her phone, so that’s one of the things that really alarms me, because she wouldn’t just leave it,” Judith said.
Rural Hamilton City is home to about 1,750 residents, and so far the teenager’s disappearance has generated little attention in the region. Cardenas’ family has launched a Facebook page called “Finding Little” dedicated to locating the Hamilton High School sophomore. So far, it’s garnered just more than 100 “likes.” (Go to www.facebook.com/FindingLittle to check it out.)
Other than the Facebook page, the Heidi Search Center for Missing Children, a 22-year-old nonprofit named for Heidi Seeman, a San Antonio, Texas, native who was abducted and murdered, has compiled the most information about the missing teen.
Warren said the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation.
Meanwhile, the elder Cardenas sister is conducting her own search efforts, including driving down to Salinas, where her sister’s boyfriend lives. But neither he nor his family has heard anything from the missing teen. She’s also printed posters and fliers and is working on distributing them in Hamilton and in Chico, where the younger Cardenas had been on the day she went missing. She reportedly went to a store on Walnut Street in Chico to pay for more minutes on her phone around noon.
What’s most concerning in the last week, Judith said, is her discovery that her sister has been in contact with strangers from out of the area. “I went through her room to search and am finding a lot of phone numbers from different area codes from around the United States,” she said.
She noted that her sister had set up a “Fun for Mobile” cell-phone app and that she’s seen comments on it from grown men.
“It’s so scary when it comes to the Internet,” she said. “What type of grown person would go ahead and take a 15-year-old, and for what? Nothing appropriate. My hunch is … just something is really wrong here.”
A flier at www.heidisearchcenter.com notes that Cardenas also goes by the name Claudia. She was last seen wearing either grey Jordan high tops or white saltwater sandals. She is described as about 5-feet-1 and 115 pounds. Her naturally dark-brown hair is bleached blond on the top and sides. She wears braces with light-blue rubber bands, and usually wears a cloth rosary and a large silver necklace.
“I’m trying to hit this in every direction,” Judith said. “She’s a good girl. She’s never done drugs in her life. She’s just a good kid.”