The list, first released in July, took half a year to put together, according to the FBI. Justin Hooper at the Bureau of Indian Affairs called the list a “huge step forward” towards eventually finding missing persons.
The newest update to the list added 19 new names. And 10 names have been removed, according to the FBI.
Frank Fisher, the spokesperson for the Albuquerque FBI office says they don’t have details on the status of all of the 10 individuals removed from the list — local law enforcement agencies simply update the list as necessary. But, Fisher says the 10 removed from the list are likely a mix of people found safe and people re-classified as no longer missing, and people who are deceased.
The list isn’t just for record keeping, the FBI says. It’s an investigative tool for local law enforcement. The FBI, after all, does not regularly investigate missing persons, Fisher says.
“If someone’s relative is included in the names, the FBI is actively checking numerous law enforcement databases and other sources nationwide to identify leads that will be quickly passed along to the appropriate agency,” Fisher said in a press release. “If an Indigenous family member who is missing is not included in this list, the relatives are urged to contact their local or tribal law enforcement agency and ask them to submit a missing person report.”
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Currently, the longest-missing person on the list is Walcie Downing born in 1924. Downing was last seen in 1956 in Gallup, New Mexico. According to her federal missing persons file, she left behind five children, who say she would never abandon them voluntarily. She would now be 97 years old.
Scott Lillyona, on the other hand, is one of the youngest on the list. Aged 13, they went missing in June of this year.
One case the FBI is involved in is the disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito, says Fisher. She went missing in 1986.
“She was nine years old when she disappeared in Gallup, New Mexico, right from her house,” Fisher says. “The FBI has not stopped looking for that kid.”
The full list of missing people is meant to help locate people like Cayedito. But some say they’re still frustrated with how little is known and published regarding New Mexico’s missing.
Fochik Hashtali, a spokesperson from the non-profit Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA (MMIWUSA,) told KRQE News 13 that adding more detail to the list, such as the location where each person went missing or the status of those no longer on the list, could go a long way towards locating New Mexico’s missing. Hashtali feels like the state has not done as much as they could when it comes to publicizing the issue.
Fisher from the FBI says there are plans to make the list more detailed. But that takes time, he says. So, the idea is to get the list out to the public as soon as possible, then build on that with more details in years to come.
“One of our biggest challenges is keeping these missing person cases in the public eye and that is one of the big reasons why we rolled out this list,” Fisher says. “We want to give this issue exposure, publicity, transparency.”
The full list can be found here, on the FBI’s website. They say they plan to update the list monthly.