Santa Rosa police detectives Wednesday joined a team of searchers in Napa County to look for a woman last seen more than 10 days ago on a remote portion of Highway 29 near Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.
Eva Diaz, 48, of Santa Rosa got out of her husband’s car sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. Aug. 17 after the couple had an argument, according to the husband’s statements to Santa Rosa police, Sgt. John Cregan said.
“Right now it is a missing person case, but we have concerns due to the time she’s been missing; it’s been nine days with no sign of her,” Cregan said Wednesday.
Cregan said police have not uncovered anything to indicate foul play.
Twenty volunteers with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team set out at about 1 p.m. Wednesday to begin combing the area, Capt. Doug Pike said.
On Sunday, Aug. 17, Diaz and her husband, Miguel Diaz, were on their way to the Twin Pine Casino in Middletown when he parked in a pullout just north of Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and let Eva Diaz out, according to police and members of her family. The area is about 17 miles north of Calistoga atop Mount St. Helena.
Miguel Diaz said he drove off but then minutes later turned around and headed back.
But when he got to the roadside pullout, Eva Diaz was nowhere to be found, he told authorities.
Miguel Diaz returned home to Santa Rosa. He contacted police three days later, on Aug. 20, to report her missing.
He told police he thought he had to wait 72 hours before reporting a person missing, Cregan said.
Eva Diaz had spent the afternoon of Aug. 17 with her youngest son, Tony Diaz, according to her daughter-in-law Ariana Johnson. The pair went to Burlington Coat Factory, Wal-Mart and the Graton Casino. He dropped her off at her Santa Rosa home at about 4 p.m.
Shortly thereafter, Eva Diaz and her husband started driving to the Twin Pine Casino in Middletown. Johnson said she was told they were headed toward Calistoga on Mark West Springs, Porter Creek and Petrified Forest roads.
Eva Diaz is a private person and did not complain about problems in her relationship, several family members said. However, Johnson said that the couple’s marriage had been strained since Miguel Diaz, whom she described as a hard worker, was injured and could no longer work at his job with a winery.
Johnson said Miguel Diaz put up posters in English and Spanish with his wife’s photo in Calistoga and Middletown.
Last weekend, Johnson, Tony Diaz and several of Johnson’s relatives returned to the area of Highway 29 where Eva Diaz was last seen and noted that the roadside was packed with cars and hikers heading to the park.
“We were in the same area at 5 o’clock, and it was sunny and hot. There were tons of cars. She could have easily hitched a ride,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she believes Miguel Diaz’s explanation that the couple had a fight and Eva Diaz got out of the car.
“I couldn’t imagine him hurting her,” Johnson said. “She did everything for him. They cooked together, they did Sunday Costco runs; they were always together.”