Episode 114: Edna Quintana

April 29, 2024

When a mother of five goes for a hike but doesn’t return home, her family is left to wonder: Where is Edna Quintana?

Episode Media
Edna Denise Quintana (CBS)
Edna Quintana (CBS)
The rugged terrain where Edna was last seen (Google Maps)
Missing poster, later updated to say Hispanic Female (CBI)
Episode Sources
Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Bite-Sized Crime. This week I’m bringing you a missing persons case from Colorado, one that doesn’t have much information, but what little it does have is perplexing. This episode discusses sensitive topics, so listener discretion is advised.

Edna Denise Quintana grew up in the mountains of southern Colorado. Her family had lived in Saguache County for generations, and Edna was well-known in her small community. The 55-year-old mother of five was described by those who knew her as kind and humble, someone who cared deeply about others. Edna especially cared about her family. She drove back and forth between her home in the town of Saguache and the neighboring town of Center, where her children – now grown – all lived. Edna also visited her elderly mother almost every day, helping around the house and making sure her mother was well taken care of. Edna’s cousin Augustina told the Sun, “You won’t find a single person in the town of Saguache that has something bad to say about Edna.”

So when Edna Quintana suddenly disappeared, no one could figure out why.

Edna’s sister Marilyn told the Center Post Dispatch that she last saw Edna on Monday, May 1, 2023. Marilyn had gotten off work and headed to their mother’s house where Edna was helping with dinner. Edna had been at their mother’s house again on Tuesday, but when Marilyn called her mother on Wednesday, she said Edna hadn’t been around. She also said that Edna had inexplicably left her clothes in the dryer and hadn’t returned to get them.

Confused, Marilyn sent her sister a message, reminding her to go pick up her laundry. When Edna didn’t respond, Marilyn tried calling. Again, no response. “I sent Edna a message that night and I was kind of mad. I figured she would call my mom the next day because she usually did when I was mad at her, to tell my mom I was mad. She never called.”

On Thursday, Marilyn spoke to someone in town – someone who knew her sister well – who mentioned that they hadn’t seen Edna lately and thought it was odd. When Marilyn got to her mother’s house that evening, she learned that Edna still hadn’t come by to pick up her laundry. Then, one of Edna’s friends and Edna’s boyfriend came by the house, asking if Edna was there.

All of these pieces combined were too much for Marilyn to ignore. She knew something had happened to her sister. But when she called the local police station, she was told that they couldn’t do anything until Edna had been missing for at least 48 hours.

But Marilyn wasn’t giving up. Her next stop was her cousin’s house; maybe Edna had been in touch with her. What Marilyn didn’t expect was to find Edna’s boyfriend at the house, and she certainly didn’t expect the story she was about to hear.

According to Marilyn, her cousin’s husband told her that Edna and her boyfriend had gone hiking in the mountains on Wednesday, May 3rd. At some point during the hike, Edna had decided she didn’t want to go any further and turned to go back down the mountain. But when the boyfriend returned to the car a while later, Edna wasn’t there.

Marilyn was baffled by this story, almost as much as she was baffled by the fact that while her cousin’s husband was telling her this strange tale, Edna’s boyfriend was standing right there, leaning casually against the wall, acting like it was no big deal that the woman he’d been seeing for two years had just walked off into the wilderness without him.

When Marilyn asked him why he hadn’t told her this when he’d come by the house on Thursday, the boyfriend said that he hadn’t said anything because he knew Marilyn didn’t like him. Marilyn told the Dispatch, “I explained to him that it was only common sense that if something like this were to happen, that he should tell one of us. This was the first time we had heard about it.”

Then, Edna’s boyfriend dropped a bombshell: he had Edna’s purse and cell phone.

Shocked, Marilyn demanded that he hand them over. Now she knew without a doubt that something was very wrong. There was no way that Edna would leave her purse and phone behind.

Edna’s boyfriend said that when Edna wanted to turn back, he’d told her not to go far because he wouldn’t be able to hear her. He also said that he thought Edna had been waiting for a car to pick her up, that he’d heard a car backfire. None of it made any sense to Marilyn, and I’ll be honest – it doesn’t make any sense to me either.

Marilyn told Edna’s boyfriend to draw her a map of the mountain where they had been hiking, to point out the place where he had last seen Edna. After filing an official missing persons report, Marilyn headed up the mountain, taking Edna’s ex – her children’s father – along with her. The pair searched the rugged terrain for Edna, hoping for even the smallest sign. They noticed that it wasn’t far from County Road 46AA. Maybe Edna had made it to the road and hitched a ride. They started knocking on doors along the road, asking residents if anyone had seen Edna Quintana. But no one had.

Frustrated, the pair headed back into town. Then, Marilyn got a phone call – her cousin said that police were at her house asking questions about Edna. Marilyn told the Dispatch, “When I got there, everyone was telling the cops the story again. The guy my sister was seeing only talked about everything for about 5 minutes. He told the cops very little and didn’t seem very worried. I don’t know, none of it really adds up.”

By this point, Edna had been missing for three days. She didn’t have her phone or wallet, and she didn’t have the medication she needed for her seizure disorder. Her family was convinced that she had fallen victim to foul play. Her cousin Augustina told the Sun, “[Edna] unfortunately didn’t keep the best company; it didn’t matter to her what your past was, or what kind of person you are now, she would be your friend because she was just a kind person. And maybe someone took advantage of that kindness, we don’t know. But she’d never leave her children… There is simply no good reason for her to disappear like that.”

The family took to social media, posting Edna’s picture and asking anyone with information to contact the police. They also hung fliers around the towns of Saguache and Center and asked local news stations to report on Edna’s story. Unfortunately, they didn’t get much of a response.

Even the police investigation didn’t garner much information in the way of tips. After a few weeks, the case was handed over to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and they issued a statewide Endangered Missing Alert on May 17th. But again, nothing came of it.

However, the search for Edna Quintana continued, centering around the mountainous area where she was last seen. In late June, teams searching the foothills of Saguache Peak came across skeletal remains. At first, they were hopeful that the remains belonged to Edna, but they were later identified as 26-year-old James Montoya. James’ mother expressed her sympathy for Edna’s family, saying, “Somebody was looking for their family member and that’s how our son was located. Our heart goes out to them. We are praying for them. I just hope that they have the same closure that we found.”

Although it wasn’t the news they were hoping for, Edna’s family continued to hope that she would be found. In September, teams conducted a search near the town of Moffat, about 20 miles east of Saguache. It’s not clear why they were looking for Edna in this particular area, but the search again turned into a recovery when the team uncovered human remains. This time, they belonged to missing mother Suzanne Morphew, whose case I covered in episode 021. Suzanne’s case had gotten much more attention than Edna’s, and this discovery was headline news.

As disappointed as the family was that they hadn’t found Edna, they were grateful that the searches had brought closure to two other families who were in the same situation they were. They also hoped that the spotlight would shine both ways. Augustina told KRDO, “When they talk about Suzanne Morphew or James Montoya, they say these people were found in the search for Edna Quintana. I want her name and I want her picture out there. Her case is not any less deserving of attention than Suzanne Morphew’s.”

In November, Edna’s family and friends gathered at Saint Agnes Catholic Church for a prayer vigil. Marilyn read an emotional statement from the family, saying, “Her two sisters, her brother, and her mom miss her very much and want her back. We ask everyone to please keep Edna’s name active. We do not want anyone to forget that she is still not home. We hope and pray that she is found safe. Please everyone help us keep her case and name active. Edna, we love you, we miss you, and we just want you home.”

As of this recording, Edna Quintana has been missing for nearly a year. Although her case hasn’t gotten much attention from the media, it does seem as though investigators are still committed to finding out what happened. They continue to question people in Edna’s life, and they conduct regular searches around Saguache County. They have released very little information to the public, and they have not named any persons of interest, which suggests to me that they are waiting for someone to come forward with details only a person connected to the case would know.

Of course, we know that sometimes the smallest detail can break a case wide open. Edna Denise Quintana disappeared from Saguache County on or around May 3, 2023. She is described as a Hispanic woman with brown hair and brown eyes. At the time of her disappearance, Edna was 55 years old standing 5’4” tall. Authorities believe she was last seen wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt with a Colorado logo, blue jeans, and white sneakers. She may have been walking in the area of County Road 46AA near the town of Saguache.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Edna Quintana, please contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation tip line at (719) 416-5815. Let’s bring Edna home.