Artesia police officials said they were frustrated that Loretta Mae Williams, last seen in 2017, has yet to been found as her missing person case remains active.
Williams was last seen on Oct. 24, 2017 in Artesia. She was 71 at the time of her disappearance and will turn 77 in December, according to information from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS).
“It has frustrated us. To have someone missing and not know or find their whereabouts is very frustrating to us as detectives,” said Artesia Police Cmdr. David Rodriguez.
He thought officers may have had a break in 2018 when State police and Artesia police found her Hyundai Accent north of Roswell in an arroyo.
“The victim appeared to have been driving the vehicle into open country and it appeared the vehicle came to a stop in the place it was found due to rugged terrain,” Rodriguez said.
“It appeared she may have exited the vehicle. She was never found,” he added.
Rodriguez said Artesia detectives have followed up on tips she was spotted in certain places.
“We received and reviewed video of a hotel Williams had been staying in. The video showed Williams to what appeared to be in a pleasant mood, nothing indicated that she was forced to do anything against her will and she did not seem under duress,” he said.
Williams is one of the 143 New Mexicans considered missing since 2022, according to information from World Population Review. More than 500,000 people went missing in the United States in 2021, per World Population Review data with nearly 480,000 found.
Jeffery Wayne McWhorter of Carlsbad was among the missing until his Carlsbad Police Department Spokesperson Capt. Jesse Rodriguez said McWhorter’s body and vehicle were found near a campground in the Gila National Forest in June, weeks after he was reported missing.
Rodriguez said McWhorter’s body was sent to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) who confirmed his identification to family members.
The cause of McWhorter’s death was not released by OMI Spokesperson Carly Newlands.
Despite the tragedy, it’s closure that Williams’ family has yet to receive, as Rodriguez urged anyone with possible information on Williams’ whereabouts to call the Artesia Police Department at 575-746-5000 or New Mexico State Police Missing Persons Hotline at 1-800-457-3463.
Why do people go missing?
Rodriguez said Williams was known to leave home and travel without telling anyone.
“Other people that go missing range from a person who may suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, kidnapping, sex trafficking (or) family issues,” he said.
“There is a wide variety of answers as to why someone may go missing, and each case is different,” Rodriguez added.
He said once law enforcement receives notification of a missing person – adult, senior or child – a series of alerts are issued.
Silver Alerts are advisories noting when an individual who is 50 years old or older who may have irreversible deterioration intellectual faculties has gone missing, according to DPS.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) defined Amber Alerts as emergency bulletins after a child 17 or younger is abducted. Amber Alerts are issued when a law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious injury or death, according to DOJ.