SANDY, Utah (AP) - Elizabeth Smart is helping bring attention to a 26-year-old Mexico woman who has been studying in Utah and disappeared a week ago.
Elena Laguna Salgado’s family issued an impassioned plea for help Friday at a news conference organized by Smart.
Laguna Salgado is from Chiapas, Mexico, and moved to Provo about a month ago to study English. There is no evidence she was kidnapped, but she hasn’t made contact with anybody since she disappeared April 16, Provo Police Chief John King said.
She usually talked with family every day, he said.
Laguna Salgado’s cellphone has been turned off, and there has been no activity on her credit cards or any other sign of where she is or what happened, King said. A volunteer search is scheduled for Saturday in Provo.
The woman’s uncle, Rosemberg Salgado, begged for help from anyone with information.
He called his niece an optimistic, spiritual woman who just finished a Mormon mission in Mexico. He said his niece is probably praying and asking God to help her be found.
Laguna Salgado was living with roommates in Provo, her uncle said. Most of her family lives in Mexico.
“Elizabeth, if you are watching this, please know that we love you and that we are going to be looking for you,” said Salgado, crying. “We won’t stop until we find you.”
Asked if his niece mentioned anything odd in recent conversations, Salgado said she told him a boy had been bugging her to go on a date and that she made up having a boyfriend to get rid of him.
King said police are interviewing the missing woman’s classmates at the Nomen Global Language Center.
Smart and her father said they organized the event to bring attention to the story. They said the the key to finding her in 2004 nine months after she was abducted was that the American public knew her face and her story.
Elizabeth Smart was 14 when she was snatched out of her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. She was held captive for nine months before being found walking with her captor in a busy street in Sandy - close to where Friday’s news conference was held at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Smart urged the public to help find Laguna Salgado even though there’s no evidence of a kidnapping.
“Maybe we’re wrong, but if we’re right then at least we’re doing everything we can,” she said.
Smart recalled what it was like when she was first abducted: “It’s terrifying. You don’t know what’s going on. You don’t know why it happened to you. You don’t know what the future is. You don’t know if people are looking for you.”
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