(DALLAS) — The family of a Texas mother who went missing three weeks ago say they are clinging to hope of finding her alive.
Erica Hernandez’s sister and two of her three children told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston that Mother’s Day was one of the most agonizing and lonely days they’ve had to endure since she vanished in April.
“Life goes on, but it really doesn’t for us,” Hernandez’s tearful 19-year-old daughter, Briza Armenta, said in the interview. “You know, our main focus is to just keep searching for her. To keep looking for clues and keep spreading her story around because we are not going to stop.”
Hernandez, 40, was last seen leaving a friend’s house in southwest Houston in the early morning hours of April 18. She was wearing a teal T-shirt with jeans and was driving a black 2020 GMC Acadia with Texas plates, according to officials and her family.
The last known image of Hernandez was captured by a Ring doorbell camera leaving her brother and sister-in-law’s home on the night of April 17, just hours before she disappeared. Her sister-in-law, Eldia Hernandez, said nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Hernandez, whose children were waiting in her car while she dropped off food.
Hernandez took her children home before going to a friend’s house, relatives said. She left her friend’s home about 2:30 a.m. on April 18. She texted her friend that she was “five minutes away from getting home,” sources told KTRK-TV.
“She’s a very caring, loving person. Even though me and my sister can be annoying to her sometimes,” said Hernandez’s 16-year-old son Dennis. “She still finds a way to bring joy to the situation and lift us up any possible way.”
Armenta said her mother was not the type to “say, ‘Oh, OK. I’m not coming back.’ I just like to reiterate that something has had to have happened for her not to be here today.”
Hernandez is a single working mother who also has a 3-year-old.
Hernandez’s sister, Ashley Hernandez, said she and family members have passed out missing person fliers and searched near an intersection in southwest Houston where they say detectives believe she was last spotted as she drove home. She said family members have also searched for clues on other possible routes she could have taken to get home.
After Hernandez vanished, her cellphone and her vehicle’s OnStar connection stopped sending location signals, police said. Hernandez’s car has not been found.
Last week, Houston searched a lake in Missouri City, Texas, after authorities there found a submerged car. Executive Assistant Chief Larry J. Satterwhite of the Houston Police Department told reporters that the empty car found in the lake was not connected to Hernandez’s disappearance.
“I want to stress that we are doing everything we can to find Ms. Hernandez,” Satterwhite said during a news conference.
Houston police have not ruled out foul play but conceded that investigators and the FBI, which is also working on the case, have not turned much information on Hernandez’s disappearance.
“There’s no trace of her. No activity on her account. There’s no sighting of her vehicle specifically, you know. That’s a crime,” Ashley Hernandez told KTRK-TV.
Asked what message she would send to her mother if she could, Armenta said, “Just know that we love you. We’re not going to stop. No matter what it takes.”
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