Holly White was well-known in the city of Taos, New Mexico. The 49-year-old had been the general manager of the Taos Center for the Arts for more than two decades, though she had recently put her notice in as she was preparing to move to Albuquerque. She spent much of the day on Thursday, May 5, 2016, helping to train her replacement at the Center for the Arts; she finished up late that afternoon and headed straight to her home. Once there, she spoke to her husband, Jeff, on the phone and then called one of her friends. She then played a word game on her phone before she went to bed sometime after 10:30 pm.

Holly planned to meet her longtime friend, Cynthia Arvidson, on Friday morning to go for a walk in a nearby park; it was something the two of them had been doing every day for eight years. Cynthia went to the park at the usual time but Holly never showed up. After waiting for a few minutes, Cynthia texted Holly to see if she was running late; when she didn’t get a response, she tried calling her friend. Holly never answered.

Cynthia drove to Holly’s house and saw that her car wasn’t parked in its usual spot in the driveway and there was no answer when she knocked on the door. Since she had a key, Cynthia decided to go inside the house to see if she could figure out what was going on. She was met at the door by Holly’s dog, Rosie; there were no immediate signs that anything was wrong.

As Cynthia looked around the house, she noticed that Holly’s purse was sitting on a table and her cell phone was plugged into its charger next to Holly’s bed. The phone’s screen showed a “missed alarm” message, indicating that Holly had set an alarm to wake her up that morning and had never shut it off.

Holly never went anywhere without her purse and cell phone; she always brought both items with her when she went on her daily walks with Cynthia. It was out of character for her to be out of contact with family and friends for any length of time, and Cynthia immediately feared that something had happened to her. After calling Holly’s husband and determining that he didn’t know where she was, Cynthia called 911 and told the dispatcher that her friend seemed to have disappeared.

The New Mexico State Police opened a missing person investigation and started searching for Holly. Later that day, they found her car parked near the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge; it was unlocked and the keys were sitting inside the cup holder. One of the vendors who worked at the Gorge told detectives that the car had been there when he arrived that morning at 6:15 am.

Investigators speculated that Holly might have gone to the bridge to commit suicide, but those who knew her well were adamant that this was not the case. Holly had never shown any signs of being depressed or suicidal, and they were certain that she never would have left her beloved dog home alone.

At the time of her disappearance, Holly had been excited about the future. Her husband had started a new job in Albuquerque and moved there a few weeks earlier; Holly was going to be joining him there after she finished up at the Center for the Arts the following week. She already had a new job lined up, and her co-workers in Taos were supposed to be throwing a goodbye party for her on the day she went missing.

Jeff White immediately drove to Taos when he learned his wife was missing. He had planned to meet Holly on Friday afternoon so he could accompany her to her farewell party; instead, he raced there during the early morning hours so he could take part in the search.

Detectives were able to confirm that Jeff was in Albuquerque at the time Holly went missing, and after interviewing him extensively, they determined that he didn’t have anything to do with her disappearance. He voluntarily took and passed a polygraph examination and was very cooperative with investigators.

Search teams spent the weekend scouring the area surrounding the Rio Grande Gorge for any clues to Holly’s whereabouts. They used cadaver dogs and a helicopter to assist in the search but found no sign of the missing woman. Officials decided to suspend the physical search on Sunday night.

Jeff was devastated by the disappearance of his wife. He told reporters, “I had just talked to her Thursday night. We were making plans to go to the party. We were just laughing and joking, just like always.” He feared that someone had abducted Holly. “Somebody probably came to the door early Friday morning, woke her up…I don’t know any other scenario, because she isn’t the type of person to leave without a note.”

Jeff said that there was no way Holly would have killed herself. “I know damn well she didn’t jump. She didn’t leave me…she wouldn’t leave her dog…she just wouldn’t.” Holly’s friends and co-workers agreed. They all believed that someone had purposely left Holly’s car at the gorge in order to throw off investigators.

Detectives weren’t so sure; they initially believed that suicide was the most likely theory and concentrated their search on the Rio Grande River. Convinced that Holly’s body was in the water, search teams returned to the river on May 12. State police dive teams searched through 16 miles of the Rio Grande. They found a single shoe that matched Holly’s shoe size but they were unable to confirm that it belonged to her. Even if it was hers, Jeff didn’t believe it meant she killed herself. “If she is down in the gorge, she didn’t go by herself. She was pushed or something.”

Jill Gustafson, one of Holly’s best friends, was one of the last people to speak with her. Holly had called Jill around 9:20 pm the night before she vanished. Jill noted that Holly had been a little stressed about her upcoming move to Albuquerque, but she was still her usual cheerful self and Jill didn’t hear anything in her voice that concerned her.

Two weeks after Holly was last seen, Jeff admitted that he didn’t think police were doing enough to find her. They seemed to be stuck on the idea that Holly had committed suicide and he didn’t believe they were considering any other possibilities. A neighbor had seen a black Toyota Solara parked in front of the couple’s Taos home the morning before Holly went missing, and Jeff wondered if it had anything to do with her disappearance. Their home had been up for sale in anticipation of their move to Albuquerque, and it was possible someone had posed as a potential buyer to gain access to the home.

Weeks went by and there was little progress on the case. On June 1, New Mexico State Police Lt. Edwardo Martinez said investigators were still trying to determine what had happened to Holly. “We have no new information right now. We are sending some of the stuff we collected from the house and the vehicle to the crime lab. We’re going to send some cell phone and computer forensics to the lab.”

Lt. Martinez noted that Holly was extremely sociable and had a lot of friends. She talked and texted with many people and detectives were in the process of going through her phone logs and interviewing her many contacts. He said that investigators had been in frequent contact with both Jeff and Holly’s father, and they were happy with the way the investigation was being handled.

Taos Crime Stoppers announced that they were offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Holly’s whereabouts or to those responsible for her disappearance. The money had been donated by Holly’s father, Roy Alcott, who lived in Kansas. Shortly after the announcement, an anonymous tip was called in that led detectives to conduct another search in the gorge area. Lt. Martinez stated, “We searched the northeast end, where there’s a gravel pit area…nothing was found.”

According to Lt. Martinez, Holly was still considered a missing person as they had found no evidence that she was the victim of foul play. “Until it becomes a criminal case, a homicide or something like that, we have no suspects…if there were anything suspicious about it, we would change the status.”

Detectives learned that Holly had taken a $5,000 loan out shortly before she vanished; her husband and friends hadn’t known about the loan and it gave them hope that Holly might still be alive. Although none of them really believed that she would have left her husband and taken off on her own, it was better than the alternative. Jeff said he just wanted to know that she was okay, even if she didn’t want to be with him anymore.

After completing a forensic investigation of her phone and computer records, detectives learned that Holly communicated with a number of people both in and outside of New Mexico. Lt. Martinez stated, “She had many friends she spoke with online.” She was also in phone and email contact with various online friends.

Investigators checked with the Transportation Security Administration to see if they had any record of Holly flying anywhere; they checked both domestic and international flights but found nothing to indicate Holly had purchased any plane tickets.

Hoping to drum up some new leads, Roy Alcott hired a private investigator to assist in the search for his daughter. The private detective hired two experienced kayakers to conduct a search of the Taos Box, one of the most rugged sections of the Rio Grande. On September 5, 2016, the kayakers spent 10 hours scouring the area. The water level was so low in parts that they had to walk through the rocky terrain, but they didn’t find any indication that Holly was there.

The Taos County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team conducted numerous searches of the gorge and found nothing. The team, which had a 100 percent success rate in recovering the bodies of people who had jumped off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, didn’t believe Holly was going to be found in the water.

On September 7, 2016, Lt. Martinez confirmed that detectives no longer believed that Holly had committed suicide. He also said they had ruled out the possibility that she had just walked away from her life without letting anyone know. He noted that Holly’s phone and email records showed that she had plans for the future; she had a job interview scheduled in Albuquerque and had been looking forward to moving there. She hadn’t taken anything with her and none of her bank accounts had been accessed since she disappeared. She was extremely attached to her dog, and no one who knew her believed that she would have willingly left her pet behind.

While detectives said they were confident that Holly hadn’t jumped off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, they admitted that they had no idea what had happened to her. They still hadn’t found any physical evidence that a crime had been committed, but the case was turned over to the criminal investigation department for further review.

Detectives found one unidentified fingerprint on the rearview mirror of Holly’s Ford Escape; they ran the print through various online databases but were unable to find a match. It was unclear how old the fingerprint was and if it had any connection to her disappearance.

A year after Holly was last seen, detectives still weren’t sure exactly what had happened. The $5,000 reward had failed to bring in any solid tips and investigators had exhausted all their leads. In November 2017, the reward was raised to $20,000.

On May 6, 2018, some of Holly’s loved ones gathered in Taos Plaza to mark the second anniversary of her disappearance. Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe spoke at the event and urged anyone who had any information, no matter how insignificant it seemed, to call investigators.

In May 2019, private investigator Elaine Graves said she believed that Holly could still be alive because there had been numerous reports from people who believed they had spotted the missing woman. Sightings came in from Oregon, Colorado, and Texas, though none of them could be confirmed. Some of Holly’s friends discounted the sightings; they didn’t believe Holly would have voluntarily cut off all contact with everyone in her life, especially her father.

As the fifth anniversary of Holly’s disappearance approached, her loved ones continued to pray for closure. Jeff still believed his wife had been a victim of foul play. “She would never commit suicide and I do not think she ran away. She is not that kind of person…she would not leave everyone and turn her back on them. It would bother her too much.”

Her father told reporters that he still thought about his daughter every single day and he missed her immensely. He wanted to make sure the Taos community didn’t forget about her and was determined to keep searching. “Don’t turn out the lights. We’re not done yet.”

As of May 2023, Holly has been missing for seven years and private detective Elaine Graves is still hard at work trying to determine what happened to her. Although she has said that she is looking at “multiple persons of interest” in the case, to date no suspects have been named and Holly is still classified as a missing person.

Holly Alcott White was 49 years old when she vanished from Taos, New Mexico in May 2016. Although her vehicle was found near the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, investigators do not believe she committed suicide. Her loved ones think she was a victim of foul play; she was close with her father and had a good relationship with her husband, and they do not believe she would have willingly walked away from them. Holly has green eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 235 pounds. If you have any information about Holly, please contact the New Mexico State Police at 575–758–8878 or Taos Crime Stoppers at 575–758–4258. There is a reward for information leading to Holly’s recovery or the arrest of those responsible for her disappearance.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *