Texas 11-Year-Old Girl Disappears After Visiting Her Grandmother
Police learned of two troubling incidents connected with the 1985 disappearance of Angelica Maria Gandara.
Almost 40 years ago, a shy 11-year-old girl in Texas went by herself to visit her grandmother. She hasn’t been seen since.
“She's still missing and we still don't know, [don't] have any answers. To this day," Laura Gandara Mendoza told KCEN-TV of her baby sister, Angelica Maria Gandara. “We don't know anything from the first day she disappeared to this day.”
On July 14, 1985, Angelica spent the afternoon with her grandmother, who lived a quick three-block walk away from her family’s home in Temple.
“We know she stopped at a house on the corner to see if her friend wanted to join her. The friend was busy, so Angelica continued on her own,” Laura recalled in a recent interview with the Temple Daily Telegram. “She made it to Grandma’s, and she left there at 3:30 p.m. She was never gone long when she went for a visit, so when it was 5 o’clock and she wasn’t back, we were concerned.”
After checking with Angelica’s grandmother, friends and classmates, family began looking for the little girl in parks and alleyways before calling the police, who joined the search.
Investigators then learned of two troubling incidents that could be connected with the missing person’s case, according to The Charley Project.
The day prior to Angelica’s disappearance, a neighbor recalled seeing the child pushing her niece in a stroller when a driver in a blue vehicle pulled up and offered her a ride, which she refused. According to the report, the driver left but then returned and again drove away.
A second eyewitness confirmed spotting Angelica the day of her disappearance sometime between 5 and 5:30 p.m. just two blocks from the grandmother’s house.
Angelica, the witness claimed, was in a dented and dirty 1977 Chevrolet pickup truck with a white man and woman. According to the witness, the truck was in disrepair and had a red and white hood, front fender and bed; blue and white doors; and a white top.
Since Angelica’s disappearance, police have identified two persons of interest in the case: David Elliot Penton and Ramiro Rubi Ibarra.
Penton, who has been incarcerated since the 1980s for killing his infant son as well as the 9-year-old niece of a friend, has admitted to authorities that he also killed three girls in Texas, though he has never been charged with any crimes related to cases, according to The Charley Project.
The organization notes police have looked at the second person of interest, Ibarra, in connection with Angelica’s alleged kidnapping since he was acquainted with her family. In 1997, he was found guilty of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl 10 years earlier in Waco.
He is currently on death row in Texas.
Angelica would be turning 50 on Feb. 5, 2024. She was last seen wearing black shorts, white bobby socks and sneakers and a black and white shirt with the word "SASSOON" printed on its front.
“We miss her so much,” Olivia Gandara told the Temple Daily Telegram of her daughter Angelica. She adds, “We will always remember her.”
Anyone with information about the case or the possible whereabouts of Angelica Maria Gandara is urged to contact the Temple Police Department at (254) 298-5500.