This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
In the spring of 2016, Holly Alcott White was preparing to relocate from Taos, New Mexico to Albuquerque to join her husband, who had just started a new job there.
But Holly never got the chance to start the new chapter of her life.
Just three months shy of her 50th birthday, Holly went missing and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. This May marks five years since she’s been gone, and her friends and family are still trying to figure out what happened to her.
“I just want to find Holly,” her best friend Jill Gustafson Shingledecker told Dateline. “I can’t believe it’s been five years since I’ve talked to my best friend.”
Jill and Holly met when they were teenagers and instantly became the best of friends, and stayed that way through big moves out-of-state, college, marriages and children. Jill even named her daughter Holly after her best friend.
“We were inseparable,” Jill said. “We shared a lot of ‘firsts’ - like putting on makeup, talking about our first kiss we had with a boy. We told each other everything.”
But there are some things Jill didn’t know about Holly, and she wouldn't find out until her friend went missing in 2016.
At the time, Holly was living in Taos, New Mexico and had been the manager at the Taos Center for the Arts for the prior 22 years. But she was preparing to relocate to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where her husband Jeff White had already started a new job. Holly also had a new job lined up and would be saying goodbye to her current job at a farewell party being held for her that Friday. But she never made it to the party.
Jill, who has been working to find out what happened to Holly since the beginning, told Dateline her friend came home from work on Thursday, May 5, 2016. They spoke on the phone and while Holly seemed stressed about the upcoming move and changes in her life, she was still her cheerful self.
Holly’s husband Jeff told Dateline he spoke to her that night as well and agreed that nothing seemed amiss during their conversation. The couple had been together for 27 years, and married for 20. He was in Albuquerque that night, but planned to return to Taos on Friday for her going away party.
“That was the last time I spoke to her,” Jeff told Dateline. “And then she was gone. It was a shock to everyone.”
No one heard from Holly after 9:20 p.m. that night.
The next morning, on May 6, 2016, Holly was scheduled to meet up with a friend, Cynthia, for their daily morning walk, something they had done for years. Holly always brought her beloved dog, Rosie, along.
But when she failed to show up, Cynthia grew concerned and went to her house. Holly’s friend Jill who was living in Oregon at the time, told Dateline that Cynthia often house-sat for Holly so she had keys and let herself inside. Holly’s purse and cell phone were in the house and her dog, Rosie, was there, waiting to be walked.
“None of it made any sense,” Jill said. “Holly always had her purse with her. And she would never leave her dog. That dog Rosie, she was like her child.”
The only thing that appeared to be missing from Holly’s house was her blue Ford Escape. It was located later that day parked at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Her keys were in the cup holder of the car.
New Mexico State Police launched a search and with the help of a dive team and river raft guides, authorities searched 12 miles of the Río Grande Gorge. There was no sign of Holly’s body, but a single black Sketchers shoe was found floating in the river.
Holly’s friend Jill told Dateline she believes the shoe belonged to Holly, but she stands by her belief that her best friend did not jump from the bridge and that whoever harmed Holly threw the shoe into the water to confuse police.
The Río Grande Gorge Bridge has one of the highest bridge suicide rates per capita in the country, according to previous news coverage. But Holly’s family, friends, and her husband Jeff, have maintained through the years she would not have committed suicide, and she wouldn’t have done so without telling someone or leaving a note.
“She wasn’t that type of person,” Jeff told Dateline. “I just know she wouldn’t have done anything like that. Someone did this to her.”
Jeff told Dateline they had been together for 27 years, married for 20, and described their marriage as a happy one. He confirmed there were things revealed about Holly after she went missing, but that doesn’t change the fact that he loved her and wanted the best for her.
Jill explained to Dateline that after Holly went missing, a search of her computer and phone revealed that her best friend kept many secrets, but the information hasn't led to answers on her whereabouts.
Holly’s husband, who lives in Albuquerque and cares for his father, told Dateline no matter what secrets Holly had, he doesn’t think she would just vanish, and believes there’s a killer on the loose in Taos.
“She didn’t deserve to die,” he added. “And if someone did something to her, her family deserves to have her back. My heart breaks for them. They should have closure. I want closure.”
Jeff told Dateline he was questioned in his wife’s disappearance and even took a polygraph test, which he passed. Police would not say if there are any suspects in Holly's disappearance at this time.
Holly’s disappearance is still under investigation and authorities encourage anyone with information to call New Mexico State Police.
Holly’s father, Ray Alcott, has hired a private investigator to look into Holly’s disappearance and she is still actively working the case. In the meantime, his is offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to Holly’s whereabouts.
A Facebook group "Case Crackers: Justice For Holly Alcott White (MISSING)” and Facebook page “Find Holly White” are both dedicated to updating the public on Holly’s case.
“I’ll always have hope that she’s alive, but at this point, I’ve accepted that she’s gone,” Jill said. “Now, we need to find her body. That’ll lead us to an answer of what happened. Then we can have some sort of closure.”
Holly would be 55 years today. At the time of her disappearance, she was described as being 5’11” tall and weighed about 275 lbs. She has green eyes and blonde hair.
Anyone with information about Holly’s case is asked to call the New Mexico State Police at 505-454-5010 or call the tip line at 575-613-3415. A $20,000 reward is being offered by Holly's father, Ray Alcott, for information that leads to Holly’s whereabouts.