Ten months after mother disappears, Hermiston family searches for answers

Family members say Graciela Garcia was last seen at her home in Hermiston

 

HERMISTON, Ore. – It’s been a long ten months for Graciela Garcia’s children.

Garcia’s Daughter, Gabriela Bautista said there are still so many unanswered questions.

“What happened to her? Is she hurt? Is she alive? Is she gone? Did somebody hurt her?” Bautista asked.

Bautista explained the story of what happened the night of November 8th, 2019.

She said Graciela was supposed to bring her son food but instead her husband, Bautista’s stepfather, brought it. He supposedly told his stepson that Graciela went to bed. The next day, Graciela’s husband told Bautista’s sister, he didn’t know where Graciela went and she wasn’t home. When the news reached Gabriela, who lives in Boardman, panic ensued.

“I just freaked out, that was just not her, that was unlike our mom,” Bautista said.

The family filed a missing person report with Hermiston Police on November 11th, 2019.

Graciela, a hair stylist, mother, wife and avid gardener, was gone. Gabriela said all that her mother took was her ID, passport and phone, which was turned off.

“It was pinged right when you cross Washington Bridge and then it cut off after that, her ID’s and her passport, all of that is missing so it’s just herself that vanished and we don’t understand how that happened,” Gabriela said.

Bautista advocated for her mother and family. She felt the case wasn’t getting enough attention and they weren’t getting enough answers from police.

In July of 2020, Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston posted an update on their Facebook:

 

“There has been lot of public attention on our investigation into the disappearance of Graciela Garcia. We believe in transparency and welcome public inquiry, but there are certain things we cannot disclose about open investigations. We withhold this information to prevent the loss or destruction of evidence, protect investigative techniques to ensure their effectiveness, and to prevent suspects from fleeing our jurisdiction.

“There has also been a lot of misinformation circulating about this case. We have not addressed this, until now, because it is mostly speculation and rumor. Below are the facts about this case that we can make public without compromising the investigation. No additional information can be released for the reasons listed above.
• Graciela was reported missing on November 11, 2019, three days after she was last seen in Hermiston. We considered her disappearance suspicious from the time of the initial report, and immediately opened an investigation.
• We asked for, and received, a significant number of additional resources from the Oregon State Police. Their assistance was primarily additional detectives. We also consulted with the FBI regarding technical assistance with certain evidence. Those resources are still available to us and are being used as needed.
• Police officers searched locations Graciela was known to frequent as well as other places that were discovered during the course of this investigation. Among these locations were the house where she lived with her husband and other properties in Umatilla County.
• Graciela’s husband has been cooperative throughout this investigation. He has consented to a search of his home and other property under his control, been interviewed on more than one occasion, provided DNA samples, etc. He was under no legal obligation to do any of those things, and his cooperation was not compelled in any manner.
• None of the detectives assigned to the investigation, and to my knowledge no members of this department, have any personal connection or social acquaintance with anybody connected to the case. This includes Graciela, her family, and her husband.
In order to make an arrest and hold somebody in jail, we need to establish probable cause. Legally, probable cause is defined as a substantial, objective basis to believe that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and the person to be arrested has committed that crime. We have not been able to establish this as yet. The standard for conviction in a criminal case is even higher.
There is currently a fundraiser circulating on social media to hire private investigators to work on this case. We have no opinion on that, or whether or not members of the community should donate. Members of the public wishing to donate should know that the money will, in no way, benefit the Hermiston Police Department or the partner agencies assisting us. We have sufficient resources available to manage the investigation at this time.
Like the whole community, but particularly Graciela’s family, we want answers. The case will remain open until we get those answers. While the unanswered questions are frustrating to every member of this community, real-life cases aren’t solved in a single episode, and the investigations must be conducted in compliance with the law and the constitution.
If you have any information that can assist with the investigation, please call us at 541-567-5519.”
Bautista said there have been theories: was Graciela kidnapped? Was she lured away? Did she leave at her free will, not wanting to be found?
Regardless, Gabriela and her family just want answers.
“I sometimes think that she is still here and then I think that she’s not because I don’t-we don’t know anything,” she said.
Recently, Gabriela has started an Etsy shop to sell t-shirts, stickers and bracelets. She said the funds will be used for hiring a private investigator and any legal fees the family may encounter. The daughter also hopes this will spread awareness on their mother’s case.
“Physically I just wish I could hug her again and tell her how much we really love her, I hope that there’s a sign from her soon,” Gabriela said.
KAPP KVEW News did reach out to Chief Edmiston and Graciela’s husband, but neither of them have given a reply.
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