Jennifer Brooks was looking forward to the holidays. It was a time for her family to all be together. But, exactly one week before Thanksgiving 2017, her 29-year-old daughter Elizabeth Brooks Hernandez disappeared.
“Holidays will never be the same,” Jennifer told Dateline. “Every day is hard, but holidays are the worst.”
Liz, as she is known by her family and friends, was four months pregnant with her third child. Her sister, Amber Brooks, told Dateline that Liz was hanging out at her house in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Wednesday, November 15, until Liz’s boyfriend, the father of her unborn baby, Miguel Martinez, came to pick her up that evening.
“She got in his truck and that’s the last time I ever heard from her,” Amber said.
Liz and Miguel first met at church when they were children, Amber told Dateline. Years later, they ran into each other and started dating.
“I only met him a few times,’ Amber said. “They had not been dating very long - maybe a few months.”
Amber said Liz was supposed to go to an appointment for food stamps at the Human Services Department on Bridge Boulevard in Southwest Albuquerque on Thursday morning. Liz was then planning to come back to Amber’s house later that afternoon to babysit her children while Amber went to work.
“When she didn’t show up, I knew something was wrong,” Amber said.
Liz had previously attended beauty school and worked in a salon shortly before she disappeared. She began helping her sister out with her two children for extra money.
“She’s a great aunt, really cares about the kids. And she would not have not shown up to help me,” Amber said.
Amber told Dateline she began calling and texting Liz’s friends to see if anyone had heard from her. But no one had.
She finally got in touch with Liz’s boyfriend Miguel who told her that he had dropped Liz off for her appointment for food stamps at the Human Services Department that morning.
Detective Dan Torgrimson with the Albuquerque Police Department told Dateline that Miguel Martinez told him the same information and that when they tracked his phone, it corroborated his statement.
An investigation revealed that Liz never signed in at the Human Services Department and the account for food stamps has not been accessed since she disappeared.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Liz’s mother Jennifer told Dateline. “She was depending on those food stamps, and she would have had to be on Medicaid to have the baby. But no one used her account that day and hasn’t used it since.”
Jennifer said her daughter would also not have just left her life behind -- especially her two children.
“She wouldn’t have just left her life, her family, her children,” Jennifer said. “And she left everything behind. Her clothes, her makeup, her EBT card. She can’t do anything without that card. Something doesn’t add up.”
Liz’s sister Amber said that her social media activity stopped completely that day, and hasn’t been active since she disappeared.
“That’s odd for her,” Amber said. “She was always on Facebook. For her to go offline like that is not normal.”
Detective Torgrimson told Dateline that authorities suspect do suspect foul play in Liz’s disappearance, but no one has been arrested. He added that Miguel Martinez, the last person known to have seen Liz, is considered a person of interest, but “without evidence or a body, it’s hard for the investigation to move forward.”
“It’s an extremely frustrating case,” Detective Torgrimson said. “But it just takes one tip from someone who might know something. One tip could change the investigation and finally solve this case.”
Amber told Dateline that she had a close sister bond with Liz.
“We did everything together. It’s really hard not having her around,” Amber said. “I don’t feel like she’s alive. Something bad happened to her and we just want to know where she is.”
Liz’s mother and sister say the worst part is just not having closure.
“We just want some answers,” Jennifer said. “They may not be the answers we want, but we need something.”
Searches by friends and law enforcement stopped years ago, but Liz’s family hasn’t forgotten her. Every year on November 16, they hold a candlelight vigil in her honor.
At the time of her disappearance, Liz was four months pregnant, 5’7, 130 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing black yoga pants with gold buttons, a burgundy top and possibly a black or dark-colored jacket.
If you know anything about Liz’s whereabouts please contact Crime Stoppers at (505) 843-7867.