Details of Disappearance Henrietta was last seen in Santa Ana, California sometime in the summer of 1960. She had dropped out of Santa Ana High School prior to her disappearance and taken a job at a store. In the spring of 1960, she met 24-year-old Merle Avila. They married a month later and lived in Santa Ana, where her family also lived.
Three months into the marriage, according to Merle, Henrietta packed her belongings and left him. She didn't get in touch with her family, and her father reported her missing on August 1. Merle stated he saw his estranged wife in a park in Long Beach, California on August 20; this is the last time anyone claims to have seen her.
On August 27, Henrietta's parents got a collect call from San Francisco, California, from someone who gave their name as Henrietta Cruz. Henrietta's mother said she would accept the charges, but the caller hung up without speaking to her. That same day, Henrietta's parents got a telegram from San Francisco, signed "Henrietta." It said she was okay, had gotten a job and would not be returning to her husband. Police determined the telegram had been phoned in from a payphone by a woman who gave a false address.
The week before Christmas in 1961, Henrietta's father went outside to his driveway and found, sitting on the trunk of his car, a belt and some underclothing belonging to Henrietta. There was no other sign of her and she never contacted her parents again.
Merle died in 2012, and Henrietta's brother died in 2020, but her sister, younger than her by ten years, is still alive and hopes for resolution in her case. Foul play is possible in Henrietta's disappearance, which remains unsolved. Santa Ana police are investigating.
- Santa Ana Police Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 24, 2020; details of disappearance updated.