By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

One year after Cynthia Martinez Perez of Woodburn went missing from a Keizer night club, family friends and complete strangers gathered on Monday, July 16 at Chalmers Jones Park for a candlelight vigil.

“She’s always in our hearts and minds and prayers,” said Angelica Castillo, Cynthia’s mother. “We miss her, we love her, we need her back. We want to keep Cynthia’s name going to where she does not get forgotten and knows how much we love her.”

The vigil was planned by a Keizer woman who never met Martinez Perez but related to her story.

“I live in Keizer and I’m a single mom of three,” Rebecca said. “I can’t imagine my three children laying their head (down) every night not knowing where I was. I want to give her children those answers. I want to find their mother and what happened to her. I’m her voice. She’s still out there somewhere and we need to let her children know where she is.”

Martinez Perez’s family and close friends were blown away by the comfort they’ve received from strangers like Rebecca.

“I just really want to thank the community for coming together and doing all of this for people that you guys didn’t even know to begin with,” Cielo Larios said. “I would like to thank the Hispanic community as well, just thousands of people have come together with prayers, with just a bunch of gifts for the kids. At the end of the day it’s about Cynthia and the kids and it’s amazing how strangers have done this. It’s very honoring to know that we have such a strong community that comes together in times like these and we want to thank everybody who’s prayed, who’s shown up, who’s even thought about her coming back.”

Lou Sumetz, a former co-worker of Cynthia’s mom, was inspired by Castillo’s faith.

“I’ve been a Christian for many years but to watch her walk through this darkness that she’s been walking through, has truly been an inspiration to me,” Sumetz said. “Angie and I know that God has Cynthia in the palm of his hand and God is faithful and no matter what the outcome is God is still in control.”

All who spoke asked for anyone who had any information regarding Martinez Perez to come forward.

“She wouldn’t stop fighting so we’re not going to stop fighting for her,” one friend said. “Share the story. When you wake up and look at your beautiful babies, hug them and remember Cynthia.”

Birthday cake was served. Martinez Perez turned 27 on Friday, July 13.

Candles were then lit as the sun went down.

Martinez Perez, a mother of four, disappeared after leaving Tequila Nights Bar and Grill about 2:30 a.m. on July 16, 2017.

In addition to a Crime Stoppers of Oregon reward of up to $2,500, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now offering a reward of up to $8,000 for information related to her disappearance.  Martinez Perez was last seen leaving the Keizer club with two Hispanic males in a blue 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan. The minivan has since been located by investigators.

Investigators have identified both men. One of them, 30-year old Jaime Alvarez-Olivera, is a person of interest in the disappearance. Alvarez-Olivera was last thought to reside in the Woodburn area, however investigators have not been able to determine exactly where he resided or with whom prior to July 16, 2017. He was last known to be employed locally as a laborer who harvested berries. Identifying his residence or individuals he lived or worked with, or who may have known or associated with him could be important to the ongoing investigation.