Details of Disappearance
Maribel left her family's home in Homestead, Florida on the afternoon of December 6, 1982 to buy candy. A friend of her father's gave her some quarters to pay with. Her older sister told her to take one of her siblings and ask permission from their mother, but Maribel went to the store by herself. She did arrive at Food Spot #21, a store in the 1600 block of northeast 8th Street, and spent $5 on candy. The clerk saw her go outside and get into a car that was waiting. She has never been heard from again.
One theory is that Maribel was abducted by her non-custodial father, Emiliano Olivo Oquendo. He was a heavy drug user and physically and emotionally abused Maribel's mother, Ana Maria Hernandez. When they were together they lived in New Jersey, and had three children.
Eventually Hernandez left him with the the children and moved to Puerto Rico for a time. When she returned to New Jersey, Oquendo reportedly stalked her. By 1982, Hernandez had taken the children to Florida, but Emiliano had found them there. Maribel's sister Clarabel Garay, who was seventeen at the time, said three days before Maribel disappeared, Emiliano showed up at their home, demanded Hernandez resume their relationship, and tried to stab her when she refused. He said, "I’m going to take away the thing you love the most."
A few weeks after Maribel's disappearance, Hernandez and Garay found Emiliano in Lake Worth, Florida and saw him driving away with what looked like a small girl in the back of his car. When he came back, he was alone, and told Hernandez, "If you want to see your daughter again, you come live with me."
Emiliano's date of birth is October 8, 1938; he was forty-four years old in December 1982. A current photo of him is posted with this case summary. He has been arrested multiple times in Florida in recent years, always on minor charges. He is now elderly, suffers from dementia, and lives in a nursing home. A photo of Emiliano is posted with this case summary. According to Maribel's sister, he has refused to say whether he knows what happened to Maribel.
Maribel's case remains unsolved and the circumstances of her disappearance are unclear.