Nearly 11 years ago, a young mother of three living near Sloan’s Lake in Denver left to drop medicine off to one of her sons who was visiting another family member just blocks away. She never arrived at her final destination, and not one of her family members has heard from her since.
Nicholle Torrez was 27 when she disappeared that night—December 14, 2006—and left her mother and young family with a never-ending series of questions, which were only multiplied when a car she had been driving showed up on the other side of the metro area months later.
Watch Liz Gelardi and James Dougherty's video version of the story in the player embedded below.
A young mother leaves home for a quick trip, then vanishes
Torrez’s mother, Gloria Garcia, remembers the night she last saw her daughter, who was living with her at the time with her children, like it was just yesterday.
“Stephan was watching TV. I remember she told him to get to bed early,” Garcia recalls. “She told him she loved him, gave him a kiss and she left…and she’s never come back.”
Stephan was 9 at the time, and Torrez had two other children: Santiago, who was 4 at the time, and Alexandra, who was 14.
The family and police know that Torrez went to an address near 26th and N. Bryant Street in Denver—just a few blocks from home, and stayed there until about midnight.
But she left—her destination unknown—and has never been seen again.
Garcia says she didn’t think much of her daughter not being home that night, but started to worry the next morning.
“I think in the morning is when I’m like, OK Nicholle is not here. It’s not like her not to be here, not to have called,” Garcia said. “I first called her sister: Have you heard from your sister? No. I think it was just kind of not sinking in at the moment…we did know that it was unusual because we are a pretty tight-knit family.”
Her mother called Denver police a day later to report her missing after the family couldn’t find her and Torrez failed to show up for work.
“She just disappeared,” said Denver Police Department spokesman Doug Schepman. “There are obviously a lot of unanswered questions here.”
“It doesn’t make sense that somebody could just disappear off the face of the earth, and it leaves a lot of uncertainty, a lot of questions unanswered…going on 10 years now,” said Torrez’s son, Stephan, now a young man.
A new lead with a disappointing end
Police say they weren’t able to gather much in the way of information initially—Torrez simply disappeared.
“Denver police interviewed friends and family members, but her whereabouts remained a mystery at that time,” Schepman said.
But in July 2007, the vehicle she was last known to be driving—a white Jeep Grand Cherokee—was discovered abandoned in the parking lot of an Aurora apartment complex.
“We don’t live on that side of town, so I can’t see Nicholle going there,” Garcia said. “So we feel like somebody took it there and dropped it off.”
And though police were initially hopeful that the car might contain some evidence, their hopes were soon dashed.
“The vehicle was processed by the Denver crime lab, but no indication of a crime was found,” Schepman said.
Since then, Torrez’s case has remained open, but police and investigators have found few leads.
“We’ve gone through a lot of it, and even though it’s been 10 years, I’m sure for all of us it feels like yesterday,” Garcia said. “We’re waiting. I mean, when you lose a loved one, when someone passes away, you know where they’re at. We have no closure. You can’t say they’re gone because I can’t say that. We don’t know that.”
Garcia says that police hinted at some point during the past few years of the investigation that they were looking for a body, but Schepman says investigators are still following any lead they can.
“At this point, we basically have to remain open to all possibilities because we don’t necessarily have information that leads us in one way or the other definitively,” Schepman said. “We have to remain open to any possibility with regards to her disappearance.”
Garcia and Torrez’s family says they remain hopeful.
“It’s just a daily thing…you go down the street, and, ‘Oh, that looks like Nicholle!’ you know, anywhere you go. Anywhere you go, I see my daughter,” Garcia said. “There’s been times when I turn around and make sure it’s not her. I mean you just don’t know.”
“We’re all just searching for closure, I think,” said Stephan. “Help us find closure as a family.”
Though that closure hasn’t come yet, the family continues to attend Colorado’s annual Missing Persons Day events in the hopes of spreading Torrez’s story and eventually finding her with continued help from police.
And Garcia has found one small piece of solace through the years, despite her ongoing search for what still looms at-large.
“My family, we have always for years and years—whenever you leave, even if you’re just going to the grocery store or whatever, it’s always, ‘OK, I love you. God bless you. Bye,’” Garcia said. “So I’m thankful and I’m blessed that those were our last words to each other.”
Schepman and DPD say they hope increased attention on Torrez’s case may help them find her or lead them to someone who knows what happened.
“It’s possible that someone who is watching [or reading] may know how or why Nicholle went missing, or has some piece to the puzzle that would help us to solve this,” Schepman said. “We would encourage them to come forward with that information and contact Denver police.”
The police department can be contacted at 720-913-2000. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Denver CrimeStoppers at 720-913-7867.