Details of Disappearance Ruben and his family attended a gathering of his stepfather's relatives at Tanupa Ranch along the Little Wood River in rural Shoshone, Idaho on February 23, 1997. There were several adults present, as well as about four to six children. Ruben's mother left for work between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m., leaving Ruben and his younger half-brother in the care of their stepfather, Aurelio Mireles.
At 6:15 p.m., Ruben's grandmother came by Tanupa Ranch to drop off one of Mireles's relatives, with whom she worked. As she did so, she noted several cars parked by the river. She then went home and changed out of her work clothes. Shortly after she arrived home, she got a call from one of the people at Tanupa Ranch, telling her Ruben had been missing for two hours.
The child was last seen sitting in the front yard and drinking his bottle. Mireles said he went inside the house for a moment to retrieve something and when he returned, Ruben had disappeared.
Dogs traced Ruben's scent for 200 yards from the house, to an outbuilding, across a potato field, up an embankment, over the railroad tracks and through as small pasture to the edge of the Little Wood River, and searchers found a child's footprint in the snow on the riverbank. Authorities searched the river several times looking for Ruben's remains, but found nothing.
In late March 1997, Ruben's family found his bottle in the yard near the house where he was last seen. The area had previously been searched several times and no one had seen the bottle there before. Police were unable to determine where it came from or how it came to be there.
Years after Ruben disappeared, his mother got a call from a man who identified himself as the FBI agent investigating Ruben's disappearance. The caller said he'd traced Ruben to Guadalajara, Mexico, where he'd been sold to a wealthy family, and that she should meet him at the FBI office in Twin Falls, Idaho. Ruben's mother went to the FBI office, but no one there knew what she was talking about. The FBI agent investigating Ruben's case had retired, unbeknownst to Ruben's mother, and the investigation into his disappearance had been cold for six years.
Ruben's mother thinks he may have been kidnapped and sold. She divorced Mireles after the child's 1997 disappearance and believes his family might have been involved in her son's case. Ruben's case remains unsolved.
- Lincoln County Sheriff's Office
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated October 9, 2019; picture added, details of disappearance updated.