MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- The search for missing Midland woman Madeline Pantoja, 20, continues amid a call from the community for more information about the ongoing missing persons investigation. Family and friends gathered outside the Midland Police Department Thursday night for a peaceful protest as a way to ask for more transparency; in response, Midland Mayor Lori Blong and Chief of Police Seth Herman held a news conference Friday to address those concerns.
“At this time, we have no reason to believe that there is a present threat to the community,” Blong began. “I cannot imagine the stress and concern and worry of Madeline’s family and friends…we know that Madeline is a daughter, and a sister, and a friend to many…so to those that know and love her, please know that we join you in prayer for her swift and safe return.”
Blong went on to assure that investigators have been working “tirelessly” to find the missing woman but stressed that there is some information that cannot be shared with the public because the investigation is ongoing and active.
Herman echoed that statement but did say that MPD, along with teams from the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security have been working around the clock since Pantoja was reported missing.
So far, Herman said that teams have searched 60 square miles of remote property, using human assets, as well as technology, including drones, and manned aircraft. Investigators have also executed more than 12 search warrants for both physical property and technology. Additionally, investigators have interviewed more than 25 people and have followed up on more than 20 tips.
“Please be assured…should evidence suggest foul play, criminal enforcement actions will be taken without delay,” Herman said.
He also stressed the importance of allowing law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations in a “legal way”
“Because our efforts are conducted in a methodical, technique based, and legally comprehensive manner, we direct the public to neither interfere by engaging in their own investigations, which could, potentially impede locating Miss Pantoja and any ensuing investigation that may follow,” Herman said. “Any interference…that may thwart efforts may result in…criminal charges. This is an ongoing investigation; it is paramount that we continue in our work, we have men and women out 24 hours a day…gathering evidence. We ask the public to be patient, to call in with any information that may lead to her whereabouts, and to avoid spreading unnecessary and untrue rumors.”
Pantoja was last seen around 11:00 p.m. on May 10 at her apartment on West Francis Street. Investigators said she left behind her car, purse, phone, and dog, and is not clear what she was wearing when she disappeared.
She’s described as 5’4″ tall and weighs about 130 pounds. She has brown hair and a butterfly tattoo behind her ear and a snake with a rose tattoo on her arm. Anyone with information is asked to call the MPD at 432-685-7108. The reward for information has now been set at $20,000.