I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Monica Carrasco was 16 when she went missing from Balmorhea, Texas on October 2, 2003. She is Hispanic, 5’5, and weighed about 110 pounds when she went missing. She has brown eyes, black hair (possibly with red streaks), and has her ears pierced. She has a small light-colored mole on her left cheek, dimples in both cheeks, and a small chicken pox scar on her forehead near her hairline.
She was last seen wearing a beige or white nightgown with no shoes or socks, possibly carrying a large black or white bible. She is classified as endangered missing and suffers from depression, anorexia, and possibly schizophrenia.
Monica was born on December 13, 1986 in West Texas to Katherine and Ramon Carrasco. She was known to be a very happy baby and a bright child. She went to church and was a devout Christian even from a young age. She loved to do bible studies, and even at 6 years old, she would volunteer to read scripture out loud to the congregation.
In middle school, her nickname was “Happy-Happy” because she always had a smile on her face and brought positivity to the room. She was a kindhearted, compassionate child and loved to do volunteer work.
On November 8, 2000, Monica’s dad passed away from a heart attack while also fighting bone cancer. She took this very hard over the next three years and fell into depression. After suddenly losing 50 pounds, her mother had her hospitalized in 2003.
She suffered from depression and anorexia and after she was released from the hospital she chose to live with her aunt and uncle, Velma and Bela Baeza. This was because she was angry with her mother for the hospitalization.
Monica was a junior at Alpine High School when she went missing. She had played basketball, the saxophone, painted, and would often bake homemade bread in her spare time. She had a passion for animals; she was a vegetarian from a young age and wanted to be a veterinarian. Over the years her career path changed and she wanted to eventually go to Harvard to become a lawyer or work with NASA.
In May 2003, three months before she went missing, Monica was harassed by a school bus driver. While she never officially reported this incident to authorities, it shook her up enough that she never wanted to get on the bus again.
The day before she went missing, Kathy, Monica, and Velma held hands and Monica led them in prayer. She told her mother she loved her and her mother said she loved her back. Their relationship was getting better and Monica was starting to forgive her mother for the hospitalization.
On October 2, Monica went to bed around 11 pm. This was the last time her aunt and uncle would see her. Her twin cousins went to Monica’s bedroom to check on her at 1:30 am and found her asleep in her bed. The next morning at 7:30 am they found her bed empty. Monica was missing and so was her bible.
At first, her family thought she went for a morning run as she usually did but she had left her shoes, socks, and other personal belongings behind. Monica’s bedroom had a door leading to the outside, and this door was unlocked. When Kathy called to check up on her daughter, Velma told her Monica was missing. Kathy left work and drove to help search for her daughter.
Investigation and Search
When the police were called, they did an extensive search and investigation of the Baezas' home and surrounding area. The landscape around their home was rocky and filled with thorns and cactus, and would be painful to walk around on bare feet.
Monica’s room was undisturbed and it looked as though she left on her own with no foul play, struggle, or forced entry into her room. While it’s unclear why she would have left the home, police believe she is in danger.
Her aunt and uncle both took polygraph tests but her uncle failed. This doesn’t mean he is guilty, as polygraph tests are usually inconclusive and not admissible in court. The bus driver was investigated but cleared and ruled out as a suspect.
The Reeves County Sheriff’s office, Border Patrol, Balmorhea Volunteer Fire Department, Texas Rangers, and many other organizations, including family and locals, joined the search for Monica. They searched on horseback, with helicopters and airplanes within a 10-mile radius and around Lake Balmorhea but found no trace of her.
April 2004: The Laura Recovery foundation of Houston, Texas conducted their own search with law enforcement, local volunteers and cadaver dogs. Still, no evidence of her was found.
June 30, 2004: A "Project Jason" forum user posted about several truck drivers seeing someone who resembled Monica at a rest stop near Indianapolis, Indiana along Highway 70. It was said she was seen leaving with an older trucker. This was simply a post on a forum, and it’s unclear whether it was an actual tip or not, but if it was, nothing was done to follow up on this possible lead.
August 2004: Monica’s case was picked up by the 18 Wheel Angels campaign. This program is a network of truckers who post flyers of missing persons on their routes.
Law enforcement also got help from a Little Rock, Arkansas psychic who provided several scenarios and locations of Monica's possible whereabouts. Police investigated each of these leads, even an old church that Monica and her uncle used to visit when she was a child. Nothing came of these leads.
Theory One: A Family Member Was Involved
Many suspect the aunt and uncle know more than they are telling, and a lot of people believe the uncle had something to do with Monica’s disappearance. Her uncle Bela Baeza was arrested on unrelated charges in 2013 for theft of property.
Her family was an important part of the town and owned a local landmark and many people believe this was a cover-up to protect the aunt and uncle. There has been no solid evidence to support this theory.
Theory Two: The Bus Driver
Some people believe that the bus driver who was harassing Monica had something to do with her disappearance. Even though he was investigated and ruled out as a suspect many people still think he may have had something to do with her going missing.
Theory Three: Picked Up On the Highway
Another uncle, Rosendo Carrasco, theorizes that she may have been picked up by someone driving along Highway 17, which is just four blocks from the Baeza home.They believe if she had run away with a friend or with a boy they would have uncovered evidence of it by now. No other locals went missing around the same time so they don’t believe it was a local person who could have taken her.
While there is no concrete evidence of this theory, police say it’s still a possibility.
Theory Four: Medication or a Medical Condition
Some theorize that Monica became disoriented due to the medication she was on and wandered off on her own. One source claims she also suffered from schizophrenia but this has never been publicly confirmed that she was diagnosed with or being treated for this.
If she did suffer from this condition it makes this theory more plausible because people with schizophrenia can experience delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, sleep problems, and an increase in unusual thoughts leading to paranoia. If she had one of these episodes during the night, it makes more sense why she wandered off without shoes into the dark.
In April 2015, Monica’s case was officially reopened by Reeves County Sheriff’s office. They explained they need to find her so they can give closure to the family and the community. Kathy has never stopped looking for her daughter.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Monica Cassandra Carrasco, please call the Reeves County Sheriff’s office at 432-445-4901.