A mother of three from Dover, Florida has been missing since January and her family fears something terrible happened to her.
Veronica Marllen Reyes-Diaz, 23, was last seen in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 18, 2020. Her father, Fidencio Minjares, told Dateline that Veronica had made plans to go out Friday night with a friend. Her husband stayed home with their 1-year-old son and she took their two older sons, ages 4 and 5, to her sister’s house in Plant City, Florida, about 15 minutes away. She returned home and was picked up by her friend later that night.
Around 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, Veronica’s friend dropped her off at her house and then Veronica drove to her sister’s house to pick up the boys before returning home, according to Veronica’s father. Once the children were inside and put to bed, her father said that’s when it appears she left the house again, but didn’t return.
Veronica's Chevy Yukon was found parked outside the house. Her car keys and wallet with cash were inside the vehicle. Veronica’s father told Dateline her cell phone pinged in the area over the weekend, but by Monday, it had been turned off because no messages or calls were going through.
“We weren’t really worried at first,” Fidencio said. “Thought maybe she was staying with a friend. Maybe she just needed some space. It happens. But not for this long. And she would have never left her kids. Never. They were everything to her.”
On Monday, Veronica’s family filed a missing persons report and began searching the area. But there was no trace of Veronica.
Assistant Chief Communications Officer Amanda Granit with The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline that Veronica’s case is classified as a missing persons case and anyone with information is encouraged to call the authorities.
“It is still a case that is being actively investigated,” Granit said. “Reyes-Diaz is not considered endangered and there are no signs of foul play at this time.”
The family, however, believes her disappearance is completely out of character and is frustrated with the lack of movement in her case.
“There’s a big problem with sex trafficking in this area,” Fidencio said. “And I’m just worried that someone grabbed her that night.”
Nearly three weeks after Veronica vanished, 28-year-old Cieha Taylor disappeared from Plant City, Florida on February 6. She was previously featured in Dateline NBC’s “Missing in America.” Cieha’s black 2000 Toyota Solaris was found abandoned on railroad tracks at East Trapnell Road. The engine was still running. Her belongings, including her cell phone and debit card, were in the car.
It is not known if these two disappearances are connected, but Fidencio said he is looking into every possibility. He said that as far as he knows, the two women did not know each other, but said he has discovered they have mutual acquaintances.
Fidencio said their family and Cieha’s family are working together to bring their loved ones home safe.
“This has brought our families together for one goal, to find our daughters,” Fidencio said. “Every time I’m out searching for Veronica, I’m searching for Cieha, too.”
But the searches for both women stalled when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down in March.
“Everything has just stopped because of coronavirus,” Fidencio said. “We’re all just really worried. I’m just so desperate for answers. For closure. Something.”
Fidencio said Mother’s Day was especially hard for the family.
“I just tried to keep the kids entertained,” Fidencio said. “But they keep asking for her. They’re worried. I just don’t know what to tell them anymore. We just need her home.”
Veronica is described as being 4’11” tall and 150 pounds. She has hair that has been dyed burgundy and brown eyes. Veronica was last seen wearing a white and grey long sleeve cropped shirt, jeans and sandals. She has a mole near her left eye and may be wearing glasses.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Veronica’s whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at (813) 247-8200 or email Piocommandcenter@hcso.tampa.fl.us.