Monday, May 1, 2000 | 11:01 a.m.
In the thousands of cases that cross the desks of Metro Police missing person detectives there is always someone who saw something, heard something or knows something.
Detectives Mark Reddon and Gary Sayre can usually ferret out something to go on. A clue that can be used to track the missing person down, or at worst reveal what happened to them.
But the case of Karla Rodriguez, who seems to have disappeared without a trace, bucks that trend and builds the frustration for those charged with finding her.
"The frustration is not that we can't solve the disappearance, but that we just don't have a direction to go in," Reddon said. "We have no eyewitnesses. Someone had to have seen something, but no one has come forward."
It has been a little over six months since 7-year-old Karla Rodriguez was last seen playing with friends on a Wednesday evening in the 700 block of Bonita Avenue, northeast of the intersection of Sixth Street and St. Louis Avenue. She disappeared just blocks from her house, sparking a massive door-to-door manhunt and national media attention.
About 30 binders fill two 3-feet-long shelves in the detectives' office, bulging with tips, information and interviews that have been conducted since Karla vanished.
"We've had all kinds of sightings and tips," Reddon said. "Everything from an apartment manager finding a backpack in an empty apartment that he thought could be Karla's, to someone seeing a girl they thought looked like Karla on a picnic at Mount Charleston."
Another tip took detectives to the Glass Pool Inn, 4613 Las Vegas Blvd. South, but the Dec. 13 search of the motel for someone who might know the whereabouts of Karla went nowhere.
"This far along the chances of this being solved aren't good," Sayre said. "The only other case I can remember where we had no eyewitnesses like this is Randi Evers."
Randi Evers was 3 years old when he disappeared sometime late Feb. 15 or early Feb. 16, 1992, from the living room of the apartment his father and stepmother rented at 313 E. Rochelle Ave.
According to the story told by Evers' parents, a birthday party for the father, Mike Evers, had broken up and he was sleeping in a back bedroom. Tina Evers, the stepmother, had left the apartment with friends to continue the party at a casino. Randi was last seen on the living-room floor, near a couch where an adult who had attended the party passed out. When Tina Evers arrived home early on Feb. 16 Randi was gone.
The disappearances of Rodriguez and Evers remain open with no solid leads as to what happened to the children.
Tips come in with less and less frequency as the cases get older, but amazingly there are still calls about Evers eight years after he was last seen, and that buoys hopes for finding him and Rodriguez, Nevada Child Seekers executive director Jill LeMasurier said.
"We never, ever give up, and we still follow every single lead we get," LeMasurier said. "We want every case to have a happy ending, but when you get these cases that go unsolved for so long it just tears your heart, because you know that whatever situation these kids are in it's not a good one."
Police have eliminated all but a few scenarios for what could have happened to Rodriguez.
"She could have been abducted by a pedophile passing through town, or she may have run across a pedophile in her neighborhood," Reddon said. "A lot of sex offenders pass through here and stay, because there are so many new people moving into town and they can just blend in.
"The third possibility is that someone from her extended family took her and she is in Mexico, but we have pretty much eliminated that."
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have checked through Rodiguez's large, extended family in Mexico, but came up empty.
"We've been through all this so many times by now, that we're pretty much down to hoping that someone in the family has her somewhere and is afraid to come forward to police," Sayre said.
The two Metro detectives have been concentrating on keeping Karla's name and face fresh in the public's mind in hopes it will jog someone's memory and lead to something that will point toward the missing girl. Most recently Karla's picture has been appearing on Purely Sedona bottled water, and was on the hood of Joe Nemechek's stock car at Saturday's Busch Series Auto Club 300 at the California Speedway.
The detectives are on call 24 hours a day and respond to any tip about Karla, so they can't help but take the case home with them, Sayre said.
"Finding Karla definitely will be a relief," Sayre said. "When we find the kids and they're OK we feel like we've done our best."
Jace Radke is a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at (702) 259-2318 or by e-mail at [email protected]