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Tracking dog, search warrants, or tips haven’t solved disappearance

After 45 days, no clues to location of missing Walsenburg man

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Forty five days after the disappearance of a Walsenburg man on December 16, 2018, the sheriff’s office continues to check out any information that has come in from the public, but reports no solid leads have been developed.

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, HCSO Captain Milan Rapo responded to a tip that some clothing items had been seen by a passerby near I-25. Rapo went to the scene and checked out the items, however, he told the World Journal they are not connected to the missing persons case of Michael Sanchez.

Michael Sanchez, 34, has been missing from Walsenburg since Dec. 16, 2017.

Thirty three days after Sanchez apparently disappeared from his home on the city’s far west side, the sheriff’s office brought in a bloodhound tracking dog and handler from the Elizabeth, CO police department. According to Huerfano Sheriff Bruce Newman, the dog picked up a good track from Sanchez’s home at 530 Alfredo St., and continued the track to the MinitMart convenience store and truck stop near the Interstate on the city’s north side. There, the dog lost the strong scent, and due to traffic on Hwy. 85/87, the operation was halted for safety concerns. “The dog kept trying to pull the handler onto the highway as it searched for the scent,” Rapo told the World Journal this week.

Rapo said the EPD makes their dog available to other Colorado law enforcement agencies free of charge. During the search Jan. 18, 2018 with the bloodhound, the handler/trainer told local officers the dog’s record was finding a missing person 32 days after they had disappeared. Unfortunately, in that particular case, the missing person was deceased when discovered.

Rapo said no video surveillance footage depicting Sanchez was found from MinitMart cameras and search warrants of the missing man’s family phones have provided no leads. Rapo said the family used their phone with a wifi connection to view and post items on Facebook. A warrant for those postings was also executed, however this did not provide any new leads in the case.

Sanchez, 34, was reported to have left his home in Walsenburg at approximately 2 am December 16 and has not been heard from since.

State and local law enforcement investigators have conducted interviews and followed up on all leads and tips they have received without any success in solving the disappearance.

Newman said there has been no evidence the missing man took anything with him such as keys, a phone or wallet when he reportedly left his home.

According to family members, Sanchez was believed to be wearing a red shirt with black trim on the sleeves, a grey zip-up hoodie, blue jeans and black shoes when he allegedly left his residence. He is described as 5’10” tall, weighs 210 pounds and has black hair and blue eyes.

The Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation continue to seek information from the public regarding this case.

If you have any information, please contact the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office at 719-738-1415 or the non-emergency phone number of the dispatch center, 719-738-1044 or the Pueblo office of the Colorado Bureau of Investigations 719-647-5999.