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A Missing Person Case: Alicia Navarro

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

By Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless Its Cake" - Blog Series Vol. 3, Slice #9

Being a parent in general is one of the most rewarding yet challenging responsibilities a

person could ever sign up for. Being a parent of an autistic individual goes the same way. One thing that makes being a parent rewarding is watching your child achieve something special on their own due to their intelligence, hard work, and unique abilities. One of the things that make

being a parent more challenging, is when Photo by Zyanya BMO/Unsplash

something horrible happens to your child or

affects your child in a way that’s out of your control such as missing person cases. According to

the National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUS) database, that’s funded by the U.S.

Department of Justice, more than 600,000 people go missing annually. It’s also been reported

that approximately 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year and nationwide there are

roughly 6.5 missing persons for every 100,000 people. Some of those people in those big

numbers are members of the autism community. This blog post is about one member's name

Alicia Navarro.

In April of this year, I was introduced to the missing person case of Alicia Navarro through

a true crime Youtuber named Kendall Rae. Afterward, it became a special interest of mine to look

at as many YouTube videos and articles as I can find about this case, and this is what I’ve been able to know so far. In an article titled IN THE STEPS OF A PREDATOR, IN A TIME OF

PANDEMIC, Independent Investigative Journalist Alissa Fleck reported that Alissa Navarro was

a 14-year-old teenager who attended Bourgade Catholic High School. As an autistic individual,

Alicia has a level of social anxiety that makes it hard for her to spend long periods of time away

from home without her medication. For sensory comfort, she prefers to wear the same sweatshirt

almost every day even during warm weather, and finds more comfort in the vast universe of

online gaming to high school social clubs. Alicia is very much dependent on the adults in her life

when it comes to traveling through public transportation and is a picky eater that eats a few select foods such as McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets or croissants from Starbucks. In some ways, Alicia still carried herself as a typical high school teenager that’s learning to navigate the world. She has a selective group of friends, interested in boys, has a popular reputation in the online gaming community that she kept secret from her parents, and even had a secretive semi-

rebellious side to her that is characteristic of her teenage years.

According to another article titled



Jessica (Alicia’s mom) comments about the changes she noticed in Alicia before her

disappearance when she states, “In the months leading up to Alicia’s disappearance, the 14-year-old self-described introvert was undergoing noticeable changes in nearly every area of her life, says Jessica.” One of the changes involved a comic book and a specific superhero when Allissa states, “Five months before she went missing, Alicia began expressing interest in Marvel’s

“Demon in a Bottle” Iron Man series, and in particular one comic book which cost nearly two-

hundred dollars. Jessica bought the book for Alicia but says she never once saw her reading it.

Jessica didn’t think much of it until she later realized Alicia brought the comic book along with

her the night she went missing, which led Jessica to think maybe it was meant to be a gift for

whomever Alicia was planning to meet that night.” Alissa also reported from her mother that

Alicia’s taste in music was starting to change too when she states, “She went from listening to

mostly pop music to liking older stuff, like Pink Floyd. And as far as her limited palate was

concerned, she’d requested a fancy steak dinner and red velvet cake for her upcoming birthday.”

There was also a change starting to take place with Alicia’s physical appearance when Alissa

states, “Leading up to her disappearance, Alicia also started wearing a fragrant body spray,

which would have been previously unthinkable due to her aversion to overpowering smells. She

also asked her mother to buy her concealer, so Jessica took her daughter to the MAC store.

Alicia, who had been known to regularly wear the same baggy sweatshirt, even in the oppressive

Arizona heat, then asked her mother to buy her an open-backed shirt that Jessica found to be

uncharacteristically provocative for the usually timid and reserved 14-year-old. Nonetheless, Jessica complied.” Even the social group that Alicia would normally spend her quality time with

was beginning to change as Alissa stated, “Two weeks before she disappeared, Alicia asked to

go to Metrocenter mall in Phoenix with some male friends from school, Jack* and Cody* (not

their real names), which was also out of character, according to Jessica, as Alicia preferred to

spend her time alone in her room immersed in the virtual world. Jack was a junior at Bourgade,

who had been trying to get Alicia to join the school’s robotics club because of her proficiency

with coding and would later tell investigators that he saw Alicia with a burner phone in a

backpack that day at the mall, but Jessica insists Alicia had nothing with her when she dropped

her off at the mall for the two-hour outing.” The most important thing worth mentioning is the

window screen in Alicia’s room. According to Alicia’s mom Jessica, she noticed a hole in

Alicia’s window screen the size of a golf ball. As odd as it was, it wasn’t enough to raise serious

concerns about it. Alissa reported Jessica’s statements about the hole in the window screen, in

which Jessica explained Alicia’s explanation for this when she states, “She told me a bird did it,”

Jessica says, “but my husband pointed out it was clearly made from the inside.” Another

important detail worth mentioning is that on September 4, 2019, eleven days before Alicia’s

disappearance, Alicia messaged a friend that she confided in who was 20-year-old Clark Samples who lives in Oregon, and on a popular gaming app known as Discord, which has also received its fair share of notoriety for being a hunting ground for sexual predators. Alicia messaged Clark and informed him that she sold her Xbox and “has a boyfriend now”. She also mentioned that she started learning how to play the electric guitar and had joined a band with Cody. There are multiple witness accounts that have suggested Alicia may have been involved in two overlapping relationships, in which both ended in difficult breakups. Alissa also explained her conversation with Clark and mentioned some of the weird things that Alicia talked about with him before disappearing when she states, “Clark told me sometimes Alicia would talk about people or situations that didn’t really exist, and it was often hard to parse the truth from fiction during their online interactions, which is perhaps what led some of her friends to ignore clear warning signs. For instance, Alicia told Jack about her plan to run away, possibly to California, the Thursday before she disappeared, and even allegedly invited him along.”

Finally, on September 15, 2019, the day that changed everything forever, Jessica had the last memory she had of seeing her daughter Alicia standing on the staircase around 1 a.m. two hours before she disappeared. Jessica described Alicia’s positive appearance when she states, “She was smiling, chatty, she just looked so happy standing there,”. Then around 3 a.m. when the house was quiet and still, Alicia sat at her bedroom desk and left a note for her mother that still echoes loudly to this day that stated, “I ran away,” she wrote. “I’ll be back, I swear. I’m sorry.” Afterwards, Alissa explained the events stating that Alicia “crept downstairs, pulled on her favorite pair of Vans sneakers, tiptoed past her stepfather who was asleep on the couch with the TV still humming, and walked out the back door of the home on W Rose Lane, leaving the door open behind her. Alicia stacked chairs and bricks to scale two fences on the west side of her house, presumably in order to evade the neighbors’ cameras to the east, and then the 14-year-old girl, who was just five days shy of her 15th birthday vanished into the warm Arizona night.” Since then, Jessica has been on a never-ending nightmare journey to get her daughter back, but the journey has not been easy since it has left her with more questions than answers. Sometimes the journey had also left her with more discouragement than hope. For example, when the one-year anniversary was fast approaching Jessica had been told by law enforcement that her daughter’s case had been “de-prioritized”, and this is the same police department that told her not to put up a reward because of the number of tips they received that also once told Jessica, “Maybe Alicia doesn’t want to be found.” Another example would be the 2020 pandemic. Alissa explained the situation of how difficult it was to work on Alicia’s case during the pandemic when she states, “…the all-consuming stress and helplessness over Alicia’s disappearance has been further compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the family and school officials to cancel vigils, and impeded the investigation on multiple fronts, including by affecting the ability of investigators to properly question witnesses.” The worst thing is Jessica having to face the cruel realities that come with being a parent of a missing child. As stated by Alissa, “Adding to the perpetual worry about her daughter’s whereabouts and wellbeing over the last year, Jessica has had to face other harsh realities that plague the parents of missing children. She’s been scammed by supposed psychics. She’s seen her daughter’s missing person flyers torn down all over town. She’s had businesses refuse to put them up in the first place. She’s had witnesses dangle potential leads in front of her only to fall off the grid, maybe out of fear for their own safety.” However, despite the discouragement and dead ends, Jessica has never given up on finding her daughter. She’s taken major steps to find Alicia, such as putting her on a Silver Alert, and according to Alissa, “A Silver Alert is a type of public notification system that aims to broadcast information about vulnerable missing persons throughout the United States.” Alissa has also reported another example of Jessica acting when she states, “I ask Jessica if police canvassed the neighborhood immediately after Alicia’s disappearance, and she tells me she had to take it upon herself to knock on neighbors’ doors and track down surveillance footage. She says she’s sure someone on the block was awake when her daughter left and must have seen something.” Then Alissa provides another example of how Jessica acted in order to have her daughter’s story told when she states, “Jessica and other volunteers rallied to get a billboard for Alicia up on a crucial interstate leading to California, and they continue to follow up on other leads. Jessica explains that potential sightings come in all the time, but they often come too late. She hopes anyone who has pertinent information or believes they see Alicia will contact the police immediately.” In the end, Jessica holds on to hope that one day her daughter Alicia will return home to her because, “She swore she’d be back,” and wherever she is Jessica hopes that she’s safe and happy.

In conclusion, why am I writing this type of blog? Because this can happen to any child, this can happen to any autistic child, and this can happen to your autistic child. For some of you, maybe it already has, and your child was fortunate enough to come home. For others, it may have happened to you as well, but your child was unfortunately not as lucky. September 2022, marks three years since Alicia Navarro went missing, and if we're going to have any chance of finding her we need to spread her story and keep it alive. Therefore, if you have any information about the disappearance of Alicia Navarro, I encourage you to immediately get in contact with the Glendale Police Department at

623-930-3000. You are welcome to contact the National Center for Missing and Pictured: Alicia Navarro (Lg. What she might look like in 2022 & an earlier photo) Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST. Photo Courtesy of National Center for Missing and Exploited & Child Find of America

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