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Cristina Ase’s co-workers help in search more than a month after she disappeared

Ase, 61, of Washington state, texted a co-worker on the morning of March 26, saying she would be late for work. She has not been heard from since.
Cristina Ase
Cristina AseNicole Oquist

It’s been more than a month since 61-year-old Cristina Ase went missing on her way to work in West Linn, Oregon, from her home in Vancouver, Washington.

Cristina is a nurse at Rose Linn Care Center, and her co-workers have led the charge advocating for Cristina since she disappeared on March 26. “Truly, we are her family,” co-worker Amy Schauer told NBC 's "Dateline." “We’re what she has.”

Cristina Ase
Cristina AseNicole Oquist

"Dateline" also spoke with co-worker Nicole Oquist, Amy’s sister. “She was just a very kind person,” she said of Cristina. “She never had a bad word to say about anybody.” 

Born in Argentina, Cristina moved to the United States in the mid-2000s in hope of living a better, more comfortable life. She was a biochemist in Argentina, according to Amy and Nicole, but her first job in America was as a cook at a nursing facility. “She then was offered a job to do medical records,” Amy said. “While she was doing that, she completed her RN and BSN.” According to Amy, Cristina then got a doctor of medical science (DMS) degree.

“She knew no English when she came here — and she taught it all to herself,” Nicole said. “She’s a pretty extraordinary woman.”

Amy described Cristina as the “true epitome of a nurse,” citing her above-and-beyond commitment to her patients and the staff. “She gave her whole life to helping others,” she said. “She never put herself above anybody. She went out -- she took care of our residents like -- like it was a family member.”

Amy and Nicole are now devoted to helping find their friend. “We are all lost and devastated without her,” Nicole said. 

Cristina Ase
Cristina AseNicole Oquist

March 25 was a normal day at Rose Linn Care Center. “[Cristina] came in her happy, chipper self,” Nicola said. “Came into her office like she did every morning, got her cup of coffee, had her lunch with us like she always did.”

Amy and Nicole both said Cristina was excited to come in the next day to attend a training with several other staff members. “She kept saying, ‘Don’t forget, the training’s tomorrow,’” Amy recalled. “‘You need to be there, Amy. I want you to be there.’”

At 6:34 a.m. on March 26 — Cristina texted Amy and Nicole’s mother, who also works at Rose Linn Care Center. She said she wouldn’t be in till 8:30 a.m., an hour later than usual. According to Cristina’s co-workers, she did not give a reason why.

Amy and Nicole thought it was “weird” that Cristina only texted their mother instead of the three of them at once. “She knew, like, if she was gonna be late, we’d worry if she wasn’t there,” Amy said.

8:30 came and went. No Cristina. As the hours passed, Amy and Nicole grew increasingly concerned. “Everybody started calling and texting her ‘cause we all knew something wasn’t right,” Nicole said. “She wouldn’t just not come in.” 

At Amy’s request, Cristina’s boss at the center placed a call to Cristina’s husband, who is her emergency contact. Amy said he told her he didn’t know Cristina had plans to start work at a later time that day. “At that very moment, we knew we were right,” Amy said. “Something was very wrong.” 

Missing poster for Cristina Ase
Missing poster for Cristina AseNicole Oquist

In a Facebook post on April 23, the Vancouver Police Department confirmed that Cristina’s husband reported her missing on March 26. 

"Dateline" reached out to the Vancouver Police Department requesting an interview about Cristina’s case. Detective Jason Nicholson said he would check with his supervisor and the VPD PIO, but "Dateline" has not yet heard back. We also requested a copy of search warrants that have reportedly been issued in the case, but the City of Vancouver Records department denied the request, stating that “this is currently an open, ongoing investigation concerning the above referenced matter and the related reports will not be available for release at this time.”

Cristina’s co-workers Nicole and Amy both agree that it’s very out of character for Cristina to go so long without contacting her family. “She would call her sisters every day,” Nicole said. 

Cristina’s sisters — as well as her husband — have chosen not to speak to media outlets about her disappearance. They have, however, given permission for her co-workers to spread awareness about her case, according to Amy and Nicole. 

Co-workers and community members have led searches for Cristina on multiple occasions including using boats to search nearby waters. “They [have also put up] hundreds, if not thousands, of flyers,” Nicole said.

Amy told "Dateline" that she contacted Chad Banks at Lamar Advertising in Lake Oswego, Oregon inquiring about a potential billboard for Cristina. “He told me it’d be about $13,000 for one billboard, which I knew was out of reach for us,” she said. “And we ended up getting seven billboards for her -- and he did it free of charge.”

Billboard for Cristina Ase
Billboard for Cristina AseNicole Oquist

Co-workers have also organized two vigils for Cristina — one on April 5 and another on April 26, which was Cristina’s 62nd birthday.

Amy and Nicole run the "Cristina ASE MISSING" Facebook group for Cristina, focused on spreading awareness about her case.

Cristina Ase
Cristina AseNicole Oquist

“We’re never gonna give up. We’re gonna always find a way to look for her. She deserves answers. [And] justice — if it’s needed,” Nicole said. “We just need one person to have the courage to come forward and say what they know. ‘Cause somebody knows something.”

Cristina is 5’8” with gray/brown hair. She weighs approximately 150 pounds. It is unknown what she was last seen wearing, but she may have been carrying a black purse with white stitching. 

Anyone with information about Cristina’s disappearance is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Department at 360-487-7500.

You can also contact Det. Jason Nicholson at Jason.nicholson@cityofvancouver.us or Sgt. Julie Ballou at Julie.ballou@cityofvancouver.us directly.

You can also contact Crime Stoppers of Oregon at 503-823-HELP (4357) or submit a tip anonymously online.

If you have a story to share with "Dateline," please submit it here.