By Zak Hansen
Las Cruces Bulletin
The family of a Las Cruces woman who went missing while hiking in Arizona more than a month ago has turned to the community for help.
Janet Castrejon, 44, went missing from Rustler Park Campground in Coronado National Forest, located in Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, Friday, June 19, while hiking with her parents for a Father’s Day outing.
Castrejon suffers from partial blindness and short-term memory loss, the result of a 30-year-old automotive accident, and according to her family has the mental capacity of a 5- to 7-year-old child, making her case especially dire.
Given Castrejon’s disabilities, her family believes it is impossible that she ventured far from the trail; instead, they believe, all signs indicate she was taken from the campground.
According to her father, Dr. Eduardo A. Castrejon, the FBI has declined to get involved due to Castrejon’s age, which disqualifies her from classification as an endangered minor despite her mental age.
Castrejon said Wednesday, July 22, that the investigator assigned to the case is currently following up on a few possible leads.
“He is interviewing some of the people who were in the campsite on the day that she disappeared, because he had not been able to get in touch with them until today,” Castrejon said. “He’s also working on another lead, too, but he won’t tell me what that lead is.
“There are a couple of leads they are following up on and, of course, we are attentive. We are listening and awaiting, ready to move anytime they tell us, to go here or go there or do this or do that.”
Dr. Castrejon said the family is planning a trip back to the site of Janet’s disappearance for the weekend of July 31, and any volunteers willing to make the trip are welcome.
“We are organizing volunteers to search the mountain one more time … so if anyone is interested in helping us, we would really appreciate the help, in case there’s something – anything – that still remains unturned,” he said. “When people get lost, they are found within a 2.6-mile radius, so we really have to comb that mountain completely.
“We have a lineup of volunteers, but anyone who wishes to add on we would be happy to accept all the help we can.”
Those interested in helping search the area are encouraged to call Dr. Castrejon’s office at 575-524-9119 and leave their name and number with a receptionist.
In the meantime, the Castrejon family has set up a website, www.findjanet.org which contains the family’s story, more information about Janet Castrejon, links to her story in the media, contact information and ways to spread the word – handing out flyers, sharing links on social media, etc.
The family has also started GoFundMe account created to raise money to bring her home. As of Monday afternoon, July 21, the account had reached more than $11,000 of its $20,000 goal.
Above all, Dr. Castrejon remains hopeful and grateful for the community’s response to his family’s plight.
“We are eternally grateful for all the help, especially from the media and the community – there’s just been so many people helping, it’s been really powerful. We just want our daughter back,” he said.
Zak Hansen may be reached at 680-1958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.