Details of Disappearance
Debra disappeared at approximately 10:00 p.m. in her hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah on July 9, 1984. She was at the Mountain Bell Plaza, her boyfriend's place of work, at the time. She told her boyfriend she planned to either walk or hitchhike home to the 1100 block of Montgomery Street. It is not known if she located a ride or began walking on her own.
Debra was a habitual hitchhiker in 1984. She had run away from home before, but she had always gone to stay at a friend's house; none of her friends saw or heard from her after her disappearance on July 9.
At the time of her disappearance, she was living with her boyfriend and his family. She was happy with her boyfriend and was planning a surprise birthday party for him. The following day, she was supposed to have traveled to California to to stay with relatives, in order to get away from unspecified problems in her life. She was at least an occasional drug user, though it's not clear how seriously she was involved with drugs.
In 2011, authorities learned Debra had contact with the police in Rock Springs, Wyoming on July 21, twelve days after she disappeared from Utah. The nature of this contact isn't known, however, since the police records have been purged. Rock Springs is about 200 miles from Salt Lake City.
Fred Martinez, a man Debra had known for about a year, traveled between the two cities. He was 30 years old in 1984, and according to a mutual friend, he had a romantic interest in Debra, but she wasn't interested in him. Their friend stated Martinez and Debra got into a fight after they went to Rock Springs and Debra left, planning to go back to Salt Lake City. Martinez realized she was gone within about ten minutes and left to go after her.
Photographs of Martinez are posted with this case summary. His and Debra's friend said he could be "very scary" and that he had once told the friend he killed Debra, then claimed this admission was a joke. Martinez died by suicide in 1995. Investigators haven't named him as a suspect in Debra's disappearance, but he is considered a person of interest.
Debra's father died in 2005 at age 58; the rest of her family continues to search for her. Her case remains unsolved.