Details of Disappearance Robert was last seen on June 7, 2000 at approximately 7:00 p.m. in his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was walking to his friend's home in the 2900 block of Bellemah Drive at the time, which was three blocks from Robert's family's residence. He never arrived and has not been heard from again.
Robert's family attempted to locate him by themselves for several hours after he was last seen. They summoned law enforcement after eight hours.
Authorities searched Robert's family's residence, their vehicles and their yard and tested the family's couch in an attempt to uncover evidence relating to his case, but nothing was found. Authorities have said that they believe Robert knew his possible abductor(s) or that the individual(s) involved may have known him.
Police are still searching for a man they say was in the neighborhood the week of Robert's disappearance. The man was riding a bicycle and had long hair tinged with gray. Police believe he may be a witness to whatever happened to Robert, and they would like to question him. The individual has never been identified or located.
Robert's older brother, Ronnie Romero, failed three polygraph exams about his brother's case. A photograph of Ronnie is posted with this case summary. He was twenty-two years old at the time of Robert went missing.
Investigators felt he behaved oddly in the days following Robert's disappearance; he stayed in his room alone and slept late while the rest of the family participated in the search effort. He told police he had taken Robert to a park to play football on the morning of June 7, but authorities later proved he had been at a party late the night before and then slept all that morning.
Ten days after Robert's disappearance, a female acquaintance of Ronnie contacted the police and said he'd confessed to her that he'd caused Robert's death and hid the child's body. Ronnie allegedly said he had hidden his brother's body very well and no one would ever find it. The woman's story has not been verified.
About a month after Robert's disappearance, Ronnie was interviewed by police and asked them about the penalties for manslaughter. He asked how much time the perpetrator would get if Robert had been killed accidentally.
Five weeks after Robert went missing, Ronnie accused his girlfriend in Robert's case. He called 911 and said the girlfriend confessed to running Robert over with her car and putting the body in a dumpster. He demanded the police come and arrest his girlfriend. When authorities arrived at the residence, Ronnie's girlfriend was deep asleep. They woke her up and asked about the confession, and she said there had been no confession and she didn't know what they were talking about.
At the police station later, Ronnie related the alleged confession in detail: he identified the exact place where he said Robert had been hit, and even described his brother's injuries. Both parties agreed to take a polygraph, but Ronnie's girlfriend changed her mind, and Ronnie failed his test.
Investigators don't believe Ronnie's girlfriend killed the child as he said, but they think she knows more than she's disclosed about Robert's disappearance. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, now lives outside New Mexico and works in law enforcement.
Robert's loved ones have stated that they felt they were harassed by law enforcement officials, particularly after Robert's initial disappearance.
Some members of his family filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Fe and its police department, alleging that their initial mishandling of the child's case may have resulted in his death. The family requested access to the police department's files on the case for their lawsuit, but a judge prohibited them from seeing the files because the investigation is still ongoing.
In late 2005, Robert's mother, Evelyn Romero, told reporters that authorities were seeking an indictment against Ronnie in Robert's disappearance. She stated she had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury regarding her missing son's case, and her two minor children were taken from her custody temporarily. They have since been returned to her.
Authorities would not confirm Evelyn's statements, saying they were not allowed to comment on grand jury investigations. Ronnie was, however, arrested on unrelated charges in January 2006. A photograph of Evelyn is posted with this case summary.
There have been no arrests in Robert's case and his loved ones have maintained they are not involved in his disappearance. All of them except Ronnie took polygraphs and passed. Robert's father died in October 2002. Ronnie died unexpectedly in a Santa Fe jail in 2008, apparently of a drug overdose. He was thirty years old.
Robert's case is still under investigation. Investigators believe he is dead and his body is somewhere in the Santa Fe area, possibly in the Caja del Rio landfill. He has no history of running away from home. His case is being investigated as a homicide.
- Santa Fe Police Department
Updated 15 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 25, 2021; three pictures added.