SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - It’s been 35 years since Ann Riffin, a New Jersey native, disappeared in a remote corner of New Mexico.
Her parents suspected the 33-year-old might have run off to join a cult or maybe even a convent or commune.
Where else could she have gone?
There are still many unanswered questions decades after police found her car parked off a lonely stretch of highway near Mora.
Law enforcement officials have yet to find her body or any sign of her, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported earlier this month.
Riffin’s family described Riffin as an introvert who didn’t have a sense of where she was heading in life.
“She was a troubled girl,” her sister, Jane Susswein, said recently.
Riffin had been living in Ruidoso, a village in south central New Mexico, when she disappeared.
Before moving to Ruidoso, Riffin had bounced around from job to job and city to city.
At one point, she converted from Judaism to Christianity and worked at a school run by an evangelical sect.
Riffin was last seen on September 1982 heading to Colorado Springs, Colorado to visit relatives, according to police reports.
But she never made it.
Police found her car - complete with all of her belongings minus her purse - in an area known as Holman Hill.
The location of Riffin’s car only adds more confusion in the case, said Herman Silva, a former state police patrolman in an interview last month.
“If (the car) broke down, you would pull it over to the side of the road,” Silva said. “Where she left it, unless you were from around there, you wouldn’t even know that place was there.”
It was also on a less than ideal route to get to Colorado Springs.
“That’s what was so strange,” Silva said.
Police searched for Riffin in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, women’s shelters and a nearby commune, but had no luck.
A few years ago, a skull turned up in southern Colorado that investigators believed might have been Riffin’s.
Investigators took a sample of DNA from Riffin’s sister, Jane Susswein, but it was not a match.
A few years after Riffin’s disappearance, Susswein had the opportunity to visit the location where her sister’s car was found decades ago.
Her visit gave her an idea of the vastness of the place where her sister never returned from.
“There’s no comparison with the desolation, the remoteness of the country,” she said.
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com
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