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Where is Arelie Garcia? Investigators and family still have no answers a year later

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- The anniversary of a loved one's death is hard. It might even be harder when you don't know what happened to them.

That's the case for the family of Arelie Garcia, who went missing out of Salinas on this day last year.

Arelie Garcia is the baby of her family. They say she is hardworking - always maintaining a job at auto dealerships and helping her mom pay for the bills of their two-bedroom apartment in Salinas.

Arelie’s mother is the last person to have seen her. Blanca Sanchez says she would always enter Arelie’s room and gently lean over to hug her daughter before leaving for work.

On September 22, 2022, Arielie went missing and the mystery surrounding how her day started would begin.

"This anguish of not knowing is killing me. It kills me to not know where my daughter Arelie is," said Arelie's mother.

Surveillance video of that morning shows how Arelie left her home at 5:30 a.m. Instead of her regular 7:30 morning departure and wasn’t dressed for work.

At about 6:56 a.m. - she messaged her sister Veronica saying “Good morning, I miss you & my baby, love you!” By 11:01 a.m. there was no response.

By then work had already called the family to see why she had not shown up. Her sisters wasted no time in trying to locate her car.

"We had a way of being able to track her car, that’s how we managed to find where it was," said Arelie's sister, Elizet Mendoza. "While my sister (Veronica) went to go file a report with the police department I drove to Big Sur, expecting to see my sister in the area."

Elizet says she found Arelie’s car just past the Bixby Bridge. Arelie's keys were still in the ignition and her phone was also inside the vehcile.

Arelie Garcia is on the far left.

After Arelie's car was found the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office sent their search and rescue team — they did an extensive search but they found nothing.

Salinas Police assisted and carried out a joint search — by foot and air using drones for two consecutive days.

Salinas Police Commander Brian Johnson says they haven’t found signs of foul play after processing Arelie’s car and phone.

"We’ve interviewed 62 people over the course of the investigation," said Commander Johnson. "And we continually if we get another person to talk to we do that too, but we’ve interviewed everyone that we possibly could. We have knowledge through using contacts on her phone, family, anything like that. And unfortunately, we haven’t come up with anything."

Arelie’s family believes she wouldn't leave this earth by choice and is out there somewhere. Arelie’s family says they lost confidence in the detectives working her case and remain focused on getting Arelie’s name and face out to the public.

It’s been a year filled with the biggest void during holidays like Christmas. Her family has faith that Arelie will return home.

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Veronica Macias

Veronica Macias is an evening anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.


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