Possible blood evidence being processed in missing woman case

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- Investigators continue to search for Esthela Rios-Gonzalez, the woman who went missing in early October. There have been several obstacles for detectives but Rios-Gonzalez's family is holding out hope.

The state crime lab is testing possible blood evidence in connection with the case.

Esthela Rios-Gonzalez's family had to celebrate the holidays without her for the first time. And, hope it's the last.

"It was hard," Rios-Gonzalez's brother Jose Morales said. "It was hard because it just brings back memories."

Esthela has been missing for more than three months. Not seen since surveillance cameras caught her leaving Legends Casino with her ex-boyfriend. A man the family knows as German Garcia, but we've since come to learn his real name is Alejandro Hernandez.

"It was surprising to everyone because we thought his name was German," Morales said.

Esthela and Hernandez have two kids together. The family told investigators he was abusive. Deputies have been looking for him ever since.

They followed a trail that took them to Idaho. Detectives found Esthela's abandoned car in Garden City. Hernandez checked into a Boise motel alone. Then, was caught on surveillance video at a convenience store in Nampa where deputies say he hitched a ride to Oregon. Right now, the car seems to have the most clues about what might have happened to Esthela.

"There was some potential blood evidence in it and so some samples of that have been sent to the state crime lab," YSO Sgt. Mike Russell said.

There have been no more sightings of Hernandez since his ride to Oregon. Deputies don't know where he is. And, the samples in the car could be troubling.

"How close is this to being a homicide investigation?" KIMA asked.
"You know, it's one of those situations where we always want to be, we always want to be optimistic about the missing person, but the more time goes on, the less optimistic you can be that the person is still alive and well," Russell responded.

Esthela's family refuses to give up.

"I think hope is something you never want to lose," Morales said.

The Yakima County Sheriff's Office has not gotten word from the state crime lab on when the potential blood evidence will be processed. They admit until another sighting, they're at a standstill in the investigation.