SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It’s as if Eztli Cortez-Trujillo vanished into thin air.
For the past 18-months family, friends and police have not received any information of Etzli’s whereabouts.
According to police reports friends were worried that Eztli was troubled, perhaps suicidal.
Eztli is transgender, gender-neutral meaning the person isn’t a male or female but considers themselves he/she or they.
Eztli’s disappearance surprised a roommate who claimed to be one of Etzli’s “chosen family members.”
“The night before they went missing, they were really struggling with themselves,” said Jem Locquiao. “They were having a hard time processing some heavy trauma.”
On April 23 of 2020, Eztli traveled east on the North Ogden divide in Weber County. Etzli’s silver Volkswagon was found high-centered along the road.
According to police reports, an Uber driver saw Etzli alongside the car and offered a ride on his return. But Etzli disappeared when the driver came back.
“I don’t know (what happened to Etzli) because there’s so many ifs, and what-ifs,” said Etzli’s sister Stephany Cortez. “So it’s just speculation as to what happened. Because only one person saw them and then didn’t see them.”
The day after Etzli’s disappearance, Locquiao who considered Etzli distraught but not suicidal, filed a missing persons report in Weber County.
The report stated Etzli was suicidal and conducted a drone search but did not locate anything in the area.
The case was transferred to Salt Lake City police because another missing report was issued there as well.
Etzli’s sister and Locquiao felt authorities didn’t move fast enough and sensed there was a bias.
“It happens to a person of color as a transperson of color,” said Locquiao. “(They are) heavily discredited and dismissed.”
A spokesman for Salt Lake City police said there was a miscommunication between their agency and the Weber County Sheriff’s office because of jurisdiction issues. But once they took over, Salt Lake City actively investigated the case.
They learned Eztli “felt uncomfortable” living away from home and “wanted to move back.” His sister said there were issues but not enough for Eztli to take his own life.
“Knowing Eztli, I don’t think they would consider suicide without writing a letter,” Stephany Cortez said. “I don’t think it’s in their nature to leave without telling anybody.”
In late April, police continued their investigation and kept Etzli’s biological family updated with leads they were following.
In May police issued a welfare check bulletin and send it to the media.
In July and August, Salt Lake’s search and rescue unit along with K-9 dogs search the area but there was no evidence of Eztli being there.
Police closed the case temporarily in March of 2021. But they promise to re-open the case if they receive new leads. Despite numerous websites devoted to finding Eztli, no one has seen or heard from them.
‘The reality is Eztli’s case has gone unnoticed because they’re a person of color and part of the LGBT community,” said Cortez. “Our family really misses (them). Our family isn’t whole without them. It’s hard to know that this is our reality.”
Anyone with information about Etzli’s disappearance is urged to contact Salt Lake City police.