I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Anthonette went missing on April 6, 1986. She was 9 years old, 4'7", and weighed 55 pounds. She had black hair and brown eyes and was biracial (Caucasian/Native American). She had dark moles on her right cheek, nose, back, and one of her ankles. She was last seen wearing a knee-length pink nightgown. She has her ears pierced and has scars on one of her knees and on her lip.
Anthonette was born on December 25, 1976, in Gallup, New Mexico. Her mother, Penny Cayedito, was a Navajo Native American. Her father, Anthony Montoya, was Italian and Hispanic (some sources say her father was Larry Estrada). Her parents separated when she was young, and she and her sisters Wendy and Senida lived with their mother in Gallup. They lived in the 200 block of Arnold Street off of Route 66, and Anthonette went to Lincoln Elementary school.
Anthonette’s mother, Penny, went out with friends on April 5, 1986, and had a babysitter look after the girls until around midnight, when Penny got home and sent the babysitter home. Penny allegedly allowed the girls to stay up playing and talking with her until about 3 a.m., when she went to bed.
After 3 a.m. on April 6, there was a gentle knock on the door. Anthonette and Wendy, who were still awake, heard the knock, and Anthonette got up to answer the door. Wendy claimed to have heard an unidentified male at the door who referred to himself as “Uncle Joe.” When Anthonette opened the door, her sister said two men grabbed her and took her to a brown van, all the while Anthonette was kicking and screaming “Let me go!” Wendy didn't get a good look at their faces, and she eventually went to sleep.
Penny got up at around 7 a.m. to get the girls up for breakfast and ready for Sunday School. She noticed Anthonette was missing and thought maybe she had heard of the neighbor's dog that went missing and wanted to join the early morning search party. Her mother searched the neighborhood and talked to the search party who claimed they hadn't seen her. At around 11 a.m., after looking around the neighborhood, she contacted the police to report her daughter missing. Authorities claimed that she needed to wait eight hours before she could officially report her daughter missing.
The authorities questioned Anthonette’s uncle but ruled him out quickly and never really thought of him as a suspect to begin with. A neighbor also reported seeing an older model brown truck parked outside her residence between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. The truck had New Mexico license plates, but the neighbor didn't get the number. They did, however, see a strange man get out of the truck and walk up to Anthonette’s house. The witness did not get a good look for details about the man or the truck.
After that morning, Anthonette was never seen again, and the police believe foul play may have been involved and that she is most likely deceased.
The Phone Call
Approximately one year after her disappearance, the local police department got a call from a girl who claimed to be Anthonette. They heard a loud angry male voice in the background screaming, “Who said you could use the phone?” There was a scuffle and a scream heard from the girl, then the call ended. The phone call only lasted 40 seconds, so they were unable to trace the location of the call. The police had Penny listen to the recorded call, and she believed it was her daughter’s voice.
In 1990 in Carson City, Nevada, a waitress reported seeing a teenage girl around 14 years old sitting at a table with two unkempt individuals. The young girl kept dropping her fork and every time the waitress would bend down to pick it up, the young girl would squeeze her hand. The waitress said the young girl looked like Anthonette. After the three people left, the waitress found a napkin on the table that had the note “Please help me. Call the police” written on it.
After the police had been called, it was never confirmed if the girl at the restaurant was Anthonette.
Penny Cayedito died in April of 1999 never knowing what happened to her daughter. Later in the case, they gave her a polygraph test, and she failed it. The authorities decided her mother knew the individuals who took her daughter. It has been shown that polygraph tests are not accurate, though, so her failing could be due to the stress of having a daughter go missing.
In June of 2006, Anthonette Cayedito’s missing case was closed without anybody facing justice and without them ever finding a body.
On August 17, 2012, Anthonette’s father died, also never knowing what had happened to his daughter.
Police believe the person or persons who abducted Anthonette knew the family and knew about how the family acted. The fact that the child didn't hesitate to open the door shows she may have known the attacker. The police also believe Penny had more information about the abduction than she let on, but they never got any details or proof of this before she passed away.
Drug Trade Connection
Some people believe someone in her family was in the drug trade and that Anthonette’s abduction was related to this. There is no evidence to support this theory, however.
Abduction by a Stranger
There are people who also believe she may have been taken by a stranger or strangers that just used the name Joe as it is a very common name. They could have just gotten lucky that she also had an uncle named Joe. These strangers clearly knew they were talking to children through the door, so they must have known the family in some way, possibly by watching the home for an extended period of time.
I personally believe the last theory, but I also think she could have been taken into human trafficking. This is due to the phone call the police received as well as the note left for the waitress. It sounds like she was being moved around, but it also sounds like she was a very smart girl, and I really do hope she is still alive and hopefully ok. Perhaps she got away and couldn't get in contact with her mother or home authorities, or maybe she got away after her mother had died and felt it best to just move on.
Nobody really knows what exactly happened to this little girl or where she could be today.
Anthonette has never been found and would be 44 as of 2020 if she is still alive. If you have any information on this case, or if you think you know where Anthonette is or if you believe you have seen this person, please call the Gallup Police Department at 505-863-9365.
- The FBI page for Anthonette Christine Cayedito.
Anthonette Cayedito has been missing since April 6, 1986, from Gallup, New Mexico.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.