Police Have New Lead In 2003 Disappearance Of 4-Year-Old Sofia Juarez

Police have released a new suspect description in the missing case of Sofia Juarez, who is believed to have been abducted near her home.

June 04, 2021
Sofia's photo is shown age-progressed to 17 years. [via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]

Sofia's photo is shown age-progressed to 17 years. [via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]

Sofia's photo is shown age-progressed to 17 years. [via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]

By: Michelle Sigona

The very first child ever listed as an active Amber Alert for Washington state still has not been found, but authorities are now releasing brand new suspect information. On February 3, 2003, and only one day before her fifth birthday, Sofia Juarez disappeared from her home in Kennewick, Washington.

On the night she vanished, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the young girl was at home playing with family. Sofia reportedly had younger aunts and uncles who were with her inside the house. At one point, Sofia’s grandmother’s boyfriend asked the kids if they wanted to go to the store with him, but reportedly they all said no. The male left alone, NCMEC said on their blog post.

“Police believe that Sofia changed her mind at the last minute and started making her way to the store on foot. Sofia never made it to the store,” according to NCMEC’s post. Kennewick Police said they believe Sofia was abducted sometime between 8 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. on the westbound side in the 100 block of East 15th Avenue toward South Washington Street.

Investigators said a key witness saw a child matching Sofia’s description walking down a sidewalk near those same crossroads. “The observation corresponds to the approximate time that Sofia would have arrived on foot in that area,” police added.

The witness told authorities a person approached the child and led her away toward an occupied van. “Sofia cried as the person laughed,” the witness told authorities. For years, one of the only clues released to the public was information about the van. The description of the vehicle only generated 24 tips at the time.

More recently in 2021, a video on Tiktok received a lot of attention and more than 50 tips. Police said many thought the woman in the video, who was interviewed randomly in Mexico, claimed she had been held against her will and was trying to reunite with her family. Some thought the female could be Sofia because the ages now match up.

According to reports, it was later revealed the woman seen on video was attending a rehab facility in the area and her family was identified. They said their loved one is not Sofia and they are requesting privacy.

After Sofia’s disappearance, “hundreds” of neighbors of the family came out to assist with the search. It is one of those cases in Kennewick where NCMEC said everyone remembers exactly “where they were and what they were doing” when Sofia vanished.

In early 2021, Kam-Way Transportation Homeward Bound Trucks added Sofia’s name and information on the side of their trucks that travel across America. NCMEC said Kam-Way is a tremendous supporter of missing children and they have featured “dozens” of missing kids on their vehicles over the years.

Sofia’s aunt, Victoria Juarez told NCMEC it is comforting for her family to see so many have not lost hope to find their loved one. Although Sofia’s mother died, Sofia’s loved ones are carrying on her memory. Many of Sofia’s belongings have been passed along to the smaller children of the family so they can have a piece of their family member with them.

Victoria said, “It's hard to explain to little kids, you know, that the little girl in the picture at grandma's house is your cousin.” Victoria adds, “…we deserve answers.”

Suspect Description

As for the suspect, the Kennewick Police believe the person is a Hispanic male and was juvenile at the time. The suspect may have been between the ages of 11 - 14 years old (would now be around 29-32 years old). He has a light complexion, was “chubby” at the time and had a “babyface.” It’s possible the male had a “mark on a cheek.” The suspect’s hair was short and wavy and it appeared he had “big hands for a person his age.” The suspect’s hair was wavy and greasy, police add.

Vehicle Description

“Suspect Vehicle: Light blue or silver (or gray) older 1970’s to early 1980’s type full-sized panel van with no side windows. Had appearances of possibly being a work-type van, the type that contractors or painters may have used. This is not to imply that it would have been a contractor or painter’s van,” police add.

Next Up

Search Continues For Mother And Daughter Kidnapped From Their Home

An ‘unknown substance’ rendered the missing woman’s husband unconscious when he answered a knock at the family’s apartment door, police say.

Arizona Police ID ‘Little Miss Nobody’ Found Dead In Desert In 1960

More than six decades after the body of a child was found in the Arizona desert, police have confirmed her identity through forensic genealogy.

Kayla Unbehaun, Missing Since 2017, Found Safe In Asheville

Kayla Unbehaun was abducted from Illinois by her biological mother, Heather Unbehaun, on Independence Day 2017. 6 years later, she was found safe in North Carolina.

5-Year-Old New Hampshire Girl Vanishes, Finally Reported Missing Two Years Later

The last time Harmony Montgomery was seen by anyone was sometime between November 28 - December 10, 2019. The reward to find Harmony has reached over $140,000.

Two Kidnapped Children Found Nearly One Year Later In Florida Supermarket

In February 2023, a routine vehicle tag check near a Winn-Dixie supermarket helped police locate the alleged kidnapper, 36-year-old Kristi Nicole Gilley, inside the store with the two children.

Child Who Went Missing From A Washington Mall In 2018 Found Safe In Mexico

8-year-old Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who had been missing since 2018, was found alive and well in Mexico and returned to the United States.

Edmond Tillman: Police Still Searching For Teen Missing Since 2005

Tillman disappeared in from New York City when he was only 14 years old. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created an age enhancement of what he may look like at age 23.

Anthonette Cayedito Vanished In Middle Of Night, Last Seen Wearing Pink Nightgown

The 9-year-old went missing from her New Mexico childhood home in 1986. If you have any information on where Anthonette Cayedito could be, please call the FBI directly: 505-889-1300.

Neighbors And Police Team Up To Rescue 6-Year-Old From Kidnapper

Within minutes of the child being snatched, 911 was called and more than a dozen officers launched to the scene. The child was found and reports said 40-year-old Robby Wildt was arrested.

Woman Kidnapped At Age 6 Reunited With Her Mother Almost 14 Years Later

Jacqueline Hernandez located her mom in Florida and reached out on social media.

Featured Cases

More Missing