Details of Disappearance Riffin took a job at a restaurant in Ruidoso, New Mexico in the summer of 1982. She was last seen while taking a brief vacation in the mountains. She planned to travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado to visit relatives there.
Her white Chevrolet hatchback was found locked, stuck in a ditch and abandoned September 21, 1982. It was in a very rugged, remote area known as Holman Hill, a short distance from Highway 3, between Mora and Tres Ritos in New Mexico. Inside the car were were some clothing, painting materials and some paintings Riffin made of the New Mexico landscape. The only thing missing from the vehicle was her purse. The vehicle was in working order and had a quarter tank of gas.
Holman Hill is not a tourist destination and it's very sparsely populated. It is en route from Ruidiso to Colorado Springs, but it's not a direct route, and authorities aren't certain why Riffin was in the area.
A woman at a gas station ten miles from where Riffin's car was found believes she saw her shortly after her disappearance. According to the witness, Riffin appeared to be alone and requested assistance. She has not been seen since. Her parents in Montclair, New Jersey reported her disappearance to police; Montclair authorities are investigating Riffin's case although she lived in New Mexico and disappeared from there.
Riffin attended Wellesley College after graduating high school, but dropped out in her junior year to travel. She subsequently enrolled at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia; her degree is in anthropology. She has previously lived in Britain, Israel and Peru, worked as a teacher and a journalist, and wrote articles for the Jewish News in East Orange, New Jersey. She enjoyed humanitarian causes and wanted to be an author in 1982.
Her sister described as a "troubled" and introverted person without a sense of direction. She moved frequently, sometimes staying with her parents, and also frequently changed jobs. She converted from Judaism to evangelical Christianity, and at one point taught at an evangelical Christian school. She had been living in Ruidoso, New Mexico for only a few months before disappearance, renting a room; her landlady said she dressed plainly, didn't date and rarely went out.
In spite of Riffin's travels, she did keep in touch with her family. None of her loved ones have heard from her disappearance, and her credit cards haven't been used. Her case remains unsolved and the circumstances of her disappearance are unclear.
- Montclair Police Department
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 1, 2018; details of disappearance updated.