Missing Washington woman's van found at Garden City McDonald's

jsowell@idahostatesman.comOctober 25, 2013 

The ex-boyfriend of a missing Toppenish, Wash., woman was seen talking to a man dressed in a hairnet in Nampa the day after she was last seen, Nampa police said Thursday.

A surveillance video from a Jacksons convenience store at 100 Caldwell Blvd. on Oct. 3 showed the man with the hairnet inside a car with German Garcia, 40, said Nampa Sgt. Tim Randall. Garcia is the ex-boyfriend of Estela Rios-Gonzalez, 30, who was last seen with Garcia leaving a casino outside Toppenish, Wash., on Oct. 2.

Police contacted several food processing plants in the Nampa area trying to identify the man in the hairnet but were unsuccessful, Randall said. Authorities hope someone who works with him will recognize him and contact police.

“We’re really focusing on that man and what he knows about where they may have gone,” Randall said. “He definitely knows the ex-boyfriend.”

The video shows Garcia sitting inside a car driven by the unknown man and talking for several minutes before getting out and walking into the store. The man with the hairnet drove off without paying for gas he pumped, Randall said.

Garcia was seen talking with several people at the store. Police believe he may have been looking for a ride out of Idaho.

On Oct. 25, a gray 2002 Chevrolet Venture passenger van belonging to Rios-Gonzalez was discovered in the parking lot of a Garden City McDonald’s.

McDonald's employees told police the van had been abandoned in their parking lot for three to four weeks.

The Boise Police Department issued a bulletin Oct. 8 saying there was evidence Rios-Gonzalez had been in Boise on Oct. 4. Further details were not released.

The woman's family in Toppenish, 21 miles southeast of Yakima, reported her missing Oct. 2.

Authorities in Washington state said she might have been in the company of Garcia.

The Yakima Herald Republic reported that relatives told sheriff's deputies Rios-Gonzalez left home to run an errand Oct. 1 and never returned.

The paper said a video obtained by investigators showed Rios-Gonzalez and Garcia together leaving a casino outside Toppenish early on Oct. 2. KIMA-TV in Yakima reported that Garcia is the father of Rios-Gonzalez's three young children and that the pair had an argument over the phone before she went missing.

Rios-Gonzalez is described as 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, with dark hair and brown eyes.

Garcia is 5-foot-4, 140 pounds, with short dark hair and a mustache and goatee.

Anyone with information on either of them is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS or online at www.343cops.com.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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