Josephine Monique Vargas

Vargas, circa 2013; Jarrae Estepp; Franc Cano; Steven Dean Gordon

  • Missing Since 10/23/2013
  • Missing From Santa Ana, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 03/31/1979 (38)
  • Age 34 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'2, 140 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A tank top and stretch pants.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Hispanic female. Red hair, brown eyes. Vargas has the following tattoos: the words "Key of My Heart Bobby" on her back, a star on her left elbow, and her middle name "Monique" on her right shoulder. She goes by her middle name, Monique. She has a scar on her elbow and a Caesarean section scar on her abdomen. Vargas is right-handed and has noticeable dimples. She wears dentures and her ears are pierced.

Details of Disappearance

Vargas was last seen at her home in Santa Ana, California on October 23, 2013. She attended her sister's birthday party, then left the celebration that afternoon, saying she was going to walk to a nearby store to purchase groceries. She has never been heard from again. At first Vargas's family thought she was with her husband and her husband thought she was with her family, and it wasn't until the 27th that they realized she was missing. They reported her disappearance at that time.

Investigators believe Vargas's disappearance is connected to the disappearances of Kianna Jackson and Martha Anaya. All three women frequented the same half-mile section of First Street, between Grand Avenue and the the 55 freeway, all of them were sex workers, and they disappeared within weeks of each other. In April 2014, Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon were arrested and charged with the murders of Jackson, Anaya and Vargas, as well as the murder of 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, whose body was found in an Anaheim, California recycling plant. Photos of Eastepp, Cano, Gordon are posted with this case summary. Both of them have prior records for sex offenses against children, and are registered sex offenders. They were wearing GPS ankle monitoring bracelets at the time of their disappearances and weren't supposed to be around each other.

At Gordon's trial in late 2016, he represented himself and admitted to being guilty of all the charges, although he said Cano had actually strangled the women. He said their bodies had been thrown in dumpsters. Gordon stated he and Cano had also abducted and killed a fifth woman, but this victim was never located, and it wasn't until 2017 that authorities were able to identify her as Sable Pickett. At his trial, Gordon asked to be given the death penalty. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Cano has yet to be tried, and he has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Vargas left behind three young children, one of them an infant. Her family stated it would be uncharacteristic of her to abandon her children. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

Investigating Agency

  • Santa Ana Police Department 714-245-8600

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 14, 2017; details of disappearance updated.