THE MISSING FILES: Mom of Emily Hieber missing for 10 years says she will fight despite 'cold case' update
The Missing Files is a weekly special feature that looks into cases of missing people across America that have shattered communities and families. It delves into the known facts and the latest updates on these mysterious disappearances.
YUMA, ARIZONA: Emily Hieber was 19 when she disappeared without a trace. She went missing on February 3, 2013, from Yuma, Arizona, and nobody has seen or heard from her since. Her phone was no longer in service by February 6 of the same year.
Speaking to MEAWW 10 years after Emily's disappearance, her mother, Jenny Jimenez, who has not given up trying to find her daughter, delved into the case. "For two weeks we hadn’t seen or heard from Emily. It wasn’t like her. I called the police department to file a missing persons report, but they told me they couldn’t do it because of her age and lifestyle. We started putting fliers up. At that time, my father spoke to a detective about Em and he took the case," Jiminez, who calls her daughter "Em," said.
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"Em had been living from place to place for a year. The last time I saw her she told me she was ready to turn her life around. Her nephew had just been born and she was so excited to be an aunt. Then she simply disappeared," Jimenez added.
'Emily's sense of humor was infectious'
"Em gave 100% in everything she did. She used her whole heart for her family, her friends, her life. That alone will tell who she is -- beautiful inside and out. She was smart, talented, and an amazing swimmer. Her sense of humor, while sometimes over the top, was infectious. When she laughed, you laughed. That is our Em," Jimenez, 48, recalled.
"Em & I had a very special relationship and we were very close. But like any mother and daughter we had our ups and downs," she said of their bond. Emily would be 29 now.
'You never left our minds'
Jimenez set up a Facebook page, titled 'Help Us Find Emily Hieber', in an effort to bring her daughter home. Exactly 10 years after she went missing, she wrote a heartbreaking post remembering her daughter.
"Yesterday was 10 years. 10 years without you. 10 years of not knowing. We took a quick trip to try and distract our minds and keep us busy. You never left our minds. We lit a candle like I do everyday. When we went to dinner, we got in the car, and Green Day was on. You are always with us Em," she wrote.
Jimenez added, "We are going to stay strong for you. We are going to find you. It isn’t fair that you are still out there. It isn’t fair that the ones that know are keeping you out there. You need to be home. You deserve to be home. This hurts so much. We love you Em. We will never give up."
'Police declared her case a cold case'
Jimenez said that for the first two years, Emily's case was actively investigated by the police. "After two years, we were brought to the department and told they were declaring her case a cold case. We were told that if any information came in, they would investigate it. We then hired a private investigator that has been actively investigating the case for the past eight years," Jimenez said.
On being asked what she speculated may have happened to Emily, Jimenez said, "I honestly have no idea. We have heard so many stories but unfortunately with all of the information we have received, we have never been able to take that next step to finding her."
"I do not believe she had a stalker," Jimenez said, on being asked if that was a possibility, adding, "Not that I know about. Em never mentioned anything like that." She added that searches for Emily have been held but nothing turned up.
'We are going to find you and bring you home'
"There are many memories I want to to share, but here's a special one," Jimenez said, recalling her times with Emily. She continued, "I was a swimmer growing up. Both my girls became swimmers too. Emily’s best event, the 100 butterfly, was my best event."
"I had held the record at Kofa and Em was determined to best my time. I will never forget the day she did it. It was a swim meet here in Yuma. I saw she was going to beat it. She touched the wall and looked at her time and saw she had best my time. She looked at me with a huge smile. She got out of the water and we could not get to each other fast enough. We were hugging and yelling. It was a very exciting time," she added.
Jimenez has not lost hope and was certain she would find Emily. "If you could hear us, Em, I would tell you that we are never giving up. We will fight as long as we have to. We are going to find you and bring you home. We love you and miss you so much," Jimenez concluded.
If you have any information about Emily Hieber's disappearance, please call the Yuma Police Department at 928-373-4686.