Details of Disappearance Read was last heard from at approximately 9:42 p.m. on February 14, 2008, at her residence in the 7300 block of Marigold Circle in Tucson, Arizona. She had dinner with her elderly mother, watched television with her, then returned to her home and called her mother to say she'd arrived safely.
Her mother called her at 6:30 a.m. the next day to make sure she got up for work, but Read didn't answer. Her mother asked a relative to go check on her, and the relative went to Read's residence and found it deserted.
Her front door was shut but unlocked. Her crutches were lying on the floor next to her cordless telephone, and there was a space heater in the living room that had been tipped over and had its cord ripped off. Read's leg brace had been left behind, but her van was gone. There was no indication of forced entry.
At 9:30 a.m. that same day, Read's turquoise 1996 Dodge Caravan with the Arizona license plate number MTR492, was found at the intersection of Golf Links and Kolb Road, about two miles from her home. The interior had been burned, and Read's burned wheelchair and the cord from her space heater were found inside the van. A photo of a similar vehicle is posted with this case summary.
Surveillance footage of a Conoco gas station nearby show a man with Read's vehicle. He also tried unsuccessfully to use Read's credit card to get money from an ATM.
The man is described as Caucasian or Hispanic, 5'6 to 5'9 tall and about 160 to 180 pounds. He was in his twenties or thirties, with short dark hair and a receding hairline. His face was pockmarked and his teeth were in poor condition, dark-colored and decaying. He was wearing a tan coat, a white shirt and dark-colored, possibly cargo type pants.
Luis Vargas was identified as a possible suspect in Read's case shortly after she disappeared. He has a criminal record for burglary and driving under the influence, and was imprisoned for an unrelated burglary later in 2008. A photo of Vargas is posted with this case summary.
In November 2014, days before he was supposed to be released from prison, Vargas was charged with murder, burglary, kidnapping, theft and arson in Read's case. He was homeless at the time of Read's disappearance and sometimes stayed with relatives in the Tucson area, but he and Read didn't know each other. Police found his fingerprints on the space heater in Read's apartment.
Vargas was tried for murder in August 2016 and found guilty, after four hours of jury deliberation. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Read was employed as a medical records clerk at Palo Verde Mental Health Hospital in 2008. She also taught Sunday school at St. Paul's United Methodist Church and volunteered at a summer camp for mentally disabled children. Her family stated she would never have opened the door to a stranger, particularly a man. It is uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning.
Read's mother died in January 2010, but her sister is still looking for her. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
- Tucson Police Department
Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 12, 2017; details of disappearance updated.