The Disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito

Today’s post is a guest article written by Amanda Barber. 

Growing up, my absolute favorite show was the original Unsolved Mysteries. The spooky theme song always gave me the creeps, and Robert Stack’s voice was pure eerie perfection. The ghosts and monsters profiled on the show were scary enough, but it was usually the true crime cases that caught my attention the most. Some of these segments were occasionally updated and solved over the course of the show’s run, and a few have even been solved in the past decade or so.

Sadly, there are still many profiled cases that have remained unsolved mysteries. One of the saddest that I’ve always remembered is the disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito, a 9-year-old girl who vanished from her own home back in 1986. Anthonette lived with her mother Penny and her two sisters in an apartment in one of the poorest parts of Gallup, New Mexico. On the night of April 6, 1986, Penny left the girls with a babysitter and went drinking at a local bar. She came back home around midnight, and let the girls stay up playing until 3 AM.

cayedito

Picture of Anthonette Cayedito.

That night, Anthonette slept with her mother in her bed. But when Penny later woke up at 7 AM, she found that Anthonette was missing. At first, Penny thought Anthonette had gotten up early to look for a missing neighbor dog. None of her neighbors had seen Anthonette, however, and a search around the neighborhood turned up nothing.

The authorities didn’t have much luck either, and the case would stay cold for more than a year until the Gallup police department received a short phone call from a girl who said that she was Anthonette. The girl claimed to be in Albuquerque, but before she could explain anything, somebody in the background yelled, “Who said you could use the phone?” Suddenly, there was a scream, and then the call ended. While the call was too short to trace, Penny did get to hear a recording of it. She confirmed that it was Anthonette’s voice.

In 1990, another development occurred when a waitress in Carson City, Nevada reported seeing a girl who looked like Anthonette in the diner where she worked. The girl, who looked about 14-years-old, was eating with a man and woman who looked dirty and unkempt. The girl repeatedly dropped her fork onto the floor during her meal. Whenever the waitress would pick it back up, the girl would squeeze the waitress’s hand. After the trio left, the waitress noticed that the girl had left behind a note she had written on a napkin. “Please help me,” it read, “Call the police.”

That same year, Anthonette’s younger sister, Wendy, told investigators that Anthonette had been abducted. The night of her disappearance, a man knocked on the family’s front door and said that he was their Uncle Joe. Since Penny was sleeping, Anthonette decided to answer it. Two men, neither of whom Wendy recognized, grabbed Anthonette and carried her to a brown van as she kicked and screamed. Wendy did not mention this when the investigation began, because she was afraid that it would upset her mother.

cayedito2

An age progression done in 2012 of what Anthonette Cayedito might look like at the age of 36.

The Peyotes did have an Uncle Joe, but the authorities believed he had nothing to do with Anthonette’s disappearance. That didn’t rule the possibility that she was abducted by somebody she knew though. Interestingly, Penny failed a lie detector test about her daughter’s disappearance, leading one detective at the Gallup Police Department to suspect that she knew who took Anthonette. There are also rumors, although unconfirmed, that Penny was somehow able to buy a new sports car a week after Anthonette went missing. Where Penny got this money has never been explained.

In April 1999, as Penny laid on her deathbed, investigators wanted to get one last interview from her. She died before they could get the chance. Anthonette’s case languished with no reliable leads for the next seven years, until it was ultimately closed in June 2006.

Personally, I don’t think the few leads the police had were very trustworthy to begin with. The phone call part of the story is very strange. Why would Anthonette, a 10-year-old kid, call up the police all the way in Gallup instead of dialing 911? Wendy’s account is also fishy. Say that Penny really was involved in the disappearance. Could she and the kidnappers have plotted the phone call and Wendy’s account to mislead the investigation?

Then there’s the matter of the Carson City girl. Perhaps Anthonette had been sold off to this couple, but the police were not convinced that the girl the waitress saw was truly Anthonette. She might have been a different girl, or the waitress had made the story up entirely. Looking these leads over, they are very weak. I can’t help but wonder if Penny knew more than she was willing to tell the police. Given that she passed away almost two decades ago, we can only hope that somebody will step forward soon and provide the crucial breakthrough the police need.

Amanda Barber is a true crime buff and Robert Stack enthusiast who dreams of writing a book about the many mysteries of her home state of Minnesota. If you would like to contribute a guest article like Amanda’s, please send a pitch to bizarreandgrotesque@gmail.com. 

 

The Disappearance of Yuki Onishi

onishi

5-year-old Yuki Onishi disappeared in Japan’s Goshikidai Forest on April 29, 2005.

Greenery Day, a national holiday in Japan meant to appreciate nature, is observed every May 4th. From its establishment in 1989 until 2007, however, it was celebrated every April 29th. In 2005, as part of a Greenery Day celebration, a bamboo shoot digging event was held in Kagawa Prefecture’s Goshikidai Forest. (Yes, this is a thing. Many people in Asia like boiling and eating the shoots.)

Some 60 people showed up to participate, including five-year-old Yuki Onishi and her mother and eight-year-old sister. The event started at 1 PM, and Yuki jumped with joy when she found her first shoot about a half-hour later. She told her mother that she was going to find another one, and then walked away to continue her search.

onishi2

A picture taken of Yuki the day she disappeared.

20 minutes after Yuki ran off, her mother looked at where all the other diggers were and suddenly realized that her daughter was missing. After a search by themselves turned up nothing, Yuki’s family called the police at 3 PM. When the police still couldn’t find a single trace of the girl, firefighters were brought in to assist the search at 5 PM. Although the authorities combed the area for the next six hours, they still weren’t able to find anything, not even a shoe or the hat Yuki was wearing.

Eventually, over 3,000 people assisted in the case, but not a single one of them was able to find any clues. The forest where Yuki disappeared and a near-by pond seemed to turn up nothing. When a police dog was brought in to follow Yuki’s scent, it suddenly stopped in its tracks in the middle of the forest.  Four other dogs were made to follow the scent the next day, but they led police to the same exact spot.

onishi3

A picture of the forest where Yuki disappeared.

This is probably the most troubling part of the case. How could somebody seemingly just vanish into thin air? A few internet sleuths have suggested that Yuki was carried off by an eagle or some other large bird. I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about eagles swooping down on a baby or toddler and grabbing them, but those are really just tall tales. According to biologist Ron Clarke, the most an eagle can carry without any difficulty is four or five pounds. At 34 pounds, Yuki would have been way too heavy for an eagle’s carrying capacity.

The other, and I’d say more plausible, theory is that Yuki was lured away and snatched up by somebody who was just passing through the forest. While nobody particularly suspicious was noticed by the diggers, some of them did see a man walking through the area with a backpack large enough to hold a child of Yuki’s size. This man has never been identified, although he might have been a camper or hiker. 

At the time of her disappearance, Yuki Onishi weighed 34 pounds (15.5 kg) and stood at 3 feet, 5 inches (106 cm). She was wearing a pink hat, a long-sleeved shirt with a red and orange pattern, white gloves, long blue pants, and pink shoes. She was 5-years-old, and as of the time of this writing, would now be 15-16. A website set up for Yuki, which Japanese-speakers can access here, offers a printable flyer and contact information for anybody who might be able to help.

Be sure to check out more offbeat stories of Japanese crime, folklore, and history in my e-book, 20 Unsolved Mysteries of Japan, available on Amazon for Kindle.