Details of Disappearance Ruben was last seen on April 7, 1983 in El Paso, Texas. He left home to walk to Eastwood Heights Elementary School and never arrived. Later that day, someone called Ruben's family and demanded ransom money for the boy's safe return. His family agreed to cooperate, but called the police instead.
Ray Acosta, Ruben's stepfather's brother, was arrested when he went to pick up the ransom. Ruben wasn't with him at the time and Acosta told the police he was dead. He refused to say where the child's body was. Authorities believe it was he who placed the ransom call from a pay phone. He may have taken Ruben to Mexico in his silver and green 1977 Cadillac sedan.
Acosta was sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping. He died in 2012, still incarcerated. Before his death, authorities interrogated him again and asked if anyone else was involved in the ransom plot. Acosta said his only role in the crime was to collect the ransom money. He didn't offer any more details and Ruben's family members, including his stepfather and his mother, were ruled out as suspects in his abduction.
In May 2013, a man in an unspecified South American country claimed to be Ruben. The individual contacted the Colombian organization Fundación Papá por Siempre (Father for Life Foundation) and said he was indigent and needed help getting his immigration status settled. He said he didn't want to return to the United States or re-establish contact with his relatives, other than his sisters. He only wanted Ruben's Social Security number and a street address for his relatives in El Paso, and for the police to stop looking for him and stop listing him as a missing child.
Fundación Papá por Siempre contacted an El Paso newspaper requesting assistance, and the person was put in touch with the El Paso Police Department. The South American individual's identity hasn't been verified and it isn't clear whether he is in fact who he says he is.
Ruben's mother is dead, but his stepfather and his two sisters are still alive. Foul play is suspected in Ruben's disappearance, which remains unsolved.
- El Paso Police Department
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated June 9, 2018; age-progression updated.