Odessa police have been looking for a homeless veteran for three years. It was this month, back in 2016 that Richard Neria’s nephew reported him missing. There are still a lot of questions surrounding his case including questions about a convicted murderer who lived nearby. Either way, his family and friends are still holding out hope that someone knows something.
Raul Franco is Richard Neria’s nephew. “That’s one of my wishes, all the family. We want closure,” said Franco. “My uncle was a very intelligent man, he was in the Navy for a short stint. He was loved by everybody, he’d give his shirt off his back to anybody”.
Franco reported him missing. Neria would now be 80-years old. He’s described as a Hispanic man about 5 foot four, 116 pounds, with brown eyes and grey hair.
“He had a surgery on his nose because he had cancer, so his distinguished mark was that he didn’t have a nose,” said Franco.
“He was just a quiet man, always kind and said thank you,” said Chris Cooper, Salvation Army Odessa, Shelter Manager.
The Salvation Army in Odessa was where he was last seen on April 25th of 2016. He came here a few times a week to have dinner.
“He was a very nice guy,” said a friend of Neria.
Another friend of the missing man said, “I always wondered what happened to him.”
“The investigation revealed that Neria also travels back and forth from Odessa and El Paso. There’s a possibility he can be at either location,” said Steve LeSueur, Odessa Police Department.
Franco confirms Neria has family in El Paso as well.. The Odessa resident shared with us his notes. He’s been conducting his own investigation of sorts for years. We have now shared that information with police. But family and friends also say Neria was terrified of a woman.
“He was scared for his life actually,” said Franco.
“It was this young lady that he was hanging out with a lot. He called her one of his drinking buddies and he was really afraid of this girl,” said a friend of the missing man. “He was afraid this girl wjp was going to try and hurt him one day. I think that may be one of the worst case scenarios I put together in my head.”
Family and friends can’t confirm the identity of that woman. It’s only hear say of who she is. However, here’s what we do know and can confirm. At one time, Neria lived on the 1300 block of East 4th street in Odessa. Again, he was last seen in April of 2016. Down the street a gruesome murder took place a couple of months later in June at the home of Audrey Montgomery. Montgomery and Lacey Taylor were convicted in the shooting death of 55-year-old Fred Robinson Junior. Authorities say Montgomery killed him with a 12 guage shotgun at her home. Robinson’s body was then found burned at Taylor’s shop. That’s where police found robinson’s bones and torso burned in a barrel.
According to previous arrest records, Montgomery and Taylor combined have 31 prior arrests just in Ector County. Some of the previous arrests include delivery of heroin and prostitution. Meanwhile, the Odessa Police Department says no person or people of interest have been identified in this case. They are also in the process of collecting DNA from the family.
“We know the outcomes not very good, the odds are stacked against us right now. But it would be nice to know, put him to rest. He deserved that,” said Franco.
We knocked on numerous doors in Neria’s former neighborhood and talked with several neighbors. One in particular, knew Neria and Montgomery and doesn’t believe there is a connection to Neria’s disappearance. We also tried talking to Montgomery in prison. However, she denied our request.
Our digital special next Thursday, highlights stories of missing persons all over the state. They’ll be shared on our website.