A nine-year-old Navajo girl is abducted in the middle of the night.
Gallup, New Mexico, lies within what was once the territory of the Navajo Indian nation. On April 6, 1986, this quiet community of 18,000 was rocked by the mysterious disappearance of a nine-year-old Navajo girl named Anthonette Cayedito. When her mother, Penny, awoke that morning, she was surprised to find that Anthonette was not in the house:
"We went looking for her around the house, nothing. I didn't start panicking until we checked with all the neighbors, went to every house and nobody had, seen her."
The police and Penny's neighbors searched the surrounding foothills but found no trace of the little girl. Authorities were almost certain she had been kidnapped. The days stretched into weeks, then months. Police could offer little to bolster Penny's hopes of ever finding her daughter alive. Finally, after a year had passed and all seemed lost, a dramatic call for help came into the Gallup Police Station. The voice claimed to be Anthonette Cayedito and the dispatcher asked her where she was. But before the girl could answer, the call was abruptly ended by an unidentified man. Detectives played a recording of the call for Penny Cayedito:
"I listened to that tape over and over and over. And just by the way she says her last name, and the way she screamed, sent chills all over my body. A mother knows and I know that was her."
The phone call renewed hope for Anthonette's safe return. However, four tortuous years passed without any further clues. The FBI released two computer-enhanced photographs showing what Anthonette might look like at the age of 14. Four months later, according to Agent Kevin Miles of the FBI, a possible sighting of Anthonette was reported in Carson City, Nevada:
"A waitress in at a restaurant in Carson City told the Carson City police about a strange incident that she had witnessed that particular day. She waited on a table at which sat a male and a female, rather unkempt, and a small girl about the age of 14 or 15. The little girl would deliberately drop a utensil on the floor. The waitress put the utensil back on the table and the little girl grabbed her hand. And the waitress thought nothing of it and went about her business. The threesome left the restaurant and the waitress went back to the table and began to bus the table. She lifted up the plate belonging to the girl, beneath was a napkin that said please help me, call the police. By the time she realized what had happened, the couple and the girl were gone."
Shortly after the Carson City sighting, Penny turned to her own Native American heritage in the search for Anthonette. She and her other daughters visited a respected Navajo medicine woman skilled in performing traditional tribal ceremonies. The medicine woman performed the Crystal Ritual, which is said to make contact with the spirit of a missing person. According to the medicine woman, Anthonette was still alive and may have a child. She was being held against her will by threats of violence, somewhere in the Southwest. Penny was amazed that the information provided by the medicine woman was consistent with elements of the detective's investigation:
"Going to the medicine lady gives me a lot of strength and it helps me to just know that she is alive. No matter who she's with, they've got to have some compassion not to hurt another human being as small as she is."
Anthonette Cayedito was nine-years-old when she disappeared. Today, she would be in her 30's. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Her birthday is December 25 th.