Gabriela was last seen by her mother April 5, 2002, when she dropped the teenager off at the Otay Mesa school. But instead of going to class that Friday morning, she apparently went to meet her boyfriend, Juan Jose Vera, in Chula Vista.
In 2005, UT San Diego reported Vera had been identified by police as a "person of interest" in the case after several sources indicated Gabriela had been the victim of foul play. Acting on tips, investigators searched a riverbed for her body, fearing she had been killed and buried in the Otay River bottom. A body was not found, and Gabriela remains missing.
Vera was serving time in prison when the search was carried out.
An age-progression image was created last year to show how Gabriela might look today. At the time she disappeared, she was 5-feet-1 and weighed 115 pounds. She has black hair and eyes, and wears contacts or glasses. She has the names Gaby and Juan tattooed on her back. She goes by Gaby and may use the last name Fernandez.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact authorities:
—Chula Vista Police Department at 619-691-5151
—Tipsters can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477
About this series:
Scores of cases throughout San Diego County go unsolved by local law enforcement investigators each year. A teen thought to be a runaway has still not come home. A dangerous parolee goes missing. A parent in a custody dispute kidnaps the children. A family member who is homeless and mentally ill disappears off the street. A loved one is murdered and there are few clues or no suspect.
No matter what the circumstances, police and relatives continue to search for those who are missing and wanted. They want the son, sister, or husband home. They want justice for the victims of crimes. They want the bad guys behind bars.
Each day in October, our Patch sites will feature a different person who is missing and wanted in San Diego County. Look at their pictures. Have you seen them? Do you have information that might help them be located, or identify a suspect?
Each profile will have a phone number for you to call to provide information. Let’s help investigators close these cases!