(Update from the Editor, 1/15/08: Body found on Mount Tamalpais is that of missing IRS agent)
I just received a chilling email from a friend. His friend’s sister, 25yo Veronica “Nikki” Ruiz, has been missing since this past Monday. Though it’s been on the local news lately, it’s one of those chilling stories that don’t seem quite real, until it happens to someone you know.
On Dec. 3rd, Ruiz told a friend she was going hiking alone on Mt. Tamalpais. “Friends said they believe she most likely was headed toward the Railroad Grade trail head on Mount Tamaulipas or toward the Golden Gate Bridge,” reports NBC11.com. “Ruiz recently completed the Nike Marathon, which runs along that route.” This suggests she’s very familiar with the area, though it’s been noted that one or two people get lost each year in this dense terrain.
She was last seen at noon wearing trail running shoes, black running capri-styled pants and a gray & orange Camelback water supply system. KCBS reported that though her missing persons report was filed at 10:00pm Monday night, authorities were not able to begin their search until the next morning. The Monday evening rain also complicated the search by removing possible signs on dirt trails. KCBS also added that “authorities are concerned that her clothing is not adequately protecting her from the elements.”
Ruiz was described as “despondent” after a break-up with her boyfriend. The Marin Independent Journal reported that her role at the Internal Revenue Service conducting criminal tax investigations authorizes her to carry a firearm during the course of her work, though it’s not known if she had her department-issued weapon with her. Mill Valley police Detective Sgt. G. Dean Loutas, who’s leading this investigation, added that at this time, “there’s nothing to indicate foul play.”
Also reported by the Marin Independent Journal were two “unconfirmed, but likely legitimate” sightings of Ruiz on Monday morning, which may hint to where she’s been. One was at the West Blithedale Avenue entrance to the Railroad Grade Fire Road, and the other was at the restroom at the West Point Inn on Panoramic Highway.
Despite the sightings, after two days of intensive searching by over 130 people, including the county’s search-and-rescue team, employees of the Marin Municipal Water District, Marin Open Space District & Mt. Tamalpais park & Golden Gate National Recreation Area rangers, police, firefighters, IRS and FBI agents, deputies on horseback, dog handlers and aircraft pilots, the search was officially suspended, “pending any developments,” authorities said.
Maricris Ruiz, Veronica’s sister and my friend’s friend, isn’t giving up. She’s organizing volunteers to do their own search daily from 7:00am – 8:00am. Her email below (after the jump) provides more details.
My sister — Veronica Ruiz (sister of Maricris Ruiz) — has been missing since Monday, December 3rd (perhaps you may have seen her story on the news lately). On that morning, she went for a run near her home in Mill Valley, possibly in or around Mt.Tam. Unfortunately, she never returned that day, nor has she been heard from since. The authorities and media were notified soon after, which resulted in a massive search and rescue effort. Along with ten agencies (such as the sheriff, various police dept.’s, special units, fire dept, feds, etc), family and friends participated in locating her, namely within the Mt.Tam vicinity close to her home. Trails were hiked and flyers were distributed in Mill Valley, Sausalito, Tiburon, and the surrounding area. Two sightings were combed thoroughly – First sighting Blithedale entrance at 11am and West Point Inn at 12pm. After two full days, the authorities have decided to indefinitely suspend their search efforts. Naturally, those closer to Nikki want nothing more than to continue the search. We have faith that she’s out there and want nothing more than to see her return home safely.
Therefore, we’ve decided to take it upon ourselves and organize our own search and rescue mission. Volunteers are needed! The attached flyer contains all of the search information. If you are unable to join us in the search, then please forward this email to as many people as you can. We all know that this is a small world and one tip may lead us in the right direction. A website is also in development and will be up very soon. Please refer to the upcoming site as it will contain updates and information pertaining to the search for Nikki:
P.S. If you are able to hike with us, dress in layers, wear the appropriate shoes, and bring bottled water.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this and please keep Nikki in your prayers.
— Family and Friends of Nikki
If you have any information, please send it to:
Mill Valley Police Department
Detective Sgt. G. Dean Loutas
Phone: (415) 389-4100
Fax: (415) 389-4148