Details of Disappearance
Herlinda's former husband, Ulises Soto, picked up their two young sons from her three-bedroom house in the 1500 block of Bill Ogden Drive in El Paso, Texas on July 2, 1993. A friend spoke to Herlinda on the phone at 11:00 p.m. that day, and this is the last time anyone had contact with her. Ulises returned to the house on July 5 at 6:00 p.m. to drop the children off, and discovered both Herlinda and her 1989 Mercury Tracer had vanished. There was obvious evidence of a violent struggle inside the residence; police stated it was the bloodiest scene they'd seen in years. Blood was smeared on the garage floor and on the floor and three to four feet up the walls inside the house near the front entrance; Herlinda normally slept on a cot near the front door. A trail of blood led through the garage out to the driveway where her car was normally parked. There was enough blood to indicate Herlinda could not have survived her injuries. There was no sign of forced entry to the house, but one of the garage doors did not lock.
Herlinda's vehicle, a 1989 Mercury Tracer, was discovered abandoned later that day in the 12400 block of Rojas Drive. This was an undeveloped industrial area at the edge of the desert, four miles from Herlinda's home. Her blood was in the trunk of the car, and investigators believe her body may have been there, but there was no sign of her at the scene and she has never been seen again.
Herlinda was employed as a health inspector for the El Paso City-County Health and Environmental District at the time of her disappearance, and was also an Army reservist. She is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and served eight months in Saudi Arabia as part of her military duty. She and Ulises met in 1980 and married in 1983; Ulises filed for divorce while Herlinda was in Saudi Arabia. Their divorce was contentious; Ulises originally got full custody of their sons after alleging Herlinda abused them. Herlinda claimed this was a lie and that she suffered from battered wife syndrome. She regained custody of the boys shortly before she vanished, and also received the family home as part of the divorce settlement. Ulises lived about five miles away and had visitation the children every other weekend. He maintains his innocence in his ex-wife's disappearance and he could account for his whereabouts at the time Herlinda vanished. After she went missing, he and their sons moved to Puerto Rico, where he is originally from.
Herlinda's loved ones describe her as responsible and conscientious woman who would be unlikely to leave without telling anyone. Authorities believe that she was probably attacked inside her house and probably beaten to death at the scene. They believe more than one person was involved in the crime, but they don't think robbery was a motive, as Herlinda kept no valuables in her home. Strangely, prior to her disappearance she told others she had a premonition that someone would murder her and bury her body in the desert where it would never be found.
Authorities have two suspects in Herlinda's disappearance; neither of them have been publicly identified. Her case remains unsolved.