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The uncle of a Provo woman who disappeared last week made a tearful plea Friday for help finding her and begged anyone who might be holding his niece captive to leave her unharmed.
Rosemberg Salgado asked for any bit of information that could possibly lead to the whereabouts of Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado, who was last seen April 16 leaving the Nomen Global Language School in Provo.
"I just want to say, Elizabeth, if you are watching this, please know that we love you and we're going to be looking for you every second, and we won't stop until we find you," Salgado said at a news conference.
There is no proof the woman was abducted, but other participants at the news conference asking for assistance in locating Laguna-Salgado included kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, and her father, Ed Smart, as well as Provo Police Chief John King.
Elizabeth Smart said she is humbled and grateful for all of the prayers for her recovery and help from the public after her kidnapping and asked for the same support for Laguna-Salgado.
"I do believe that she's alive and we can find her," Smart said.
Ed Smart said publicity is the key to Laguna-Salgado's return, noting that his daughter was found because someone recognized her.
Laguna-Salgado, 26, was last seen at about 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, walking home from the language school at 384 W. Center St. to her apartment. Since then, she has not shown up at class or her job as a waitress, according to police, who said she does not own a car.
While there is nothing to indicate foul play, investigators are concerned because she typically was in touch with her family every day, King said. Since Laguna-Salgado disappeared, there has been no activity on her cell phone or her credit cards, he added.
King urged people to think about where they were at the time Laguna-Salgado was last seen and try to recall if they saw anything unusual, no matter how minor, especially along 500 West the route she may have taken after leaving the school. If anyone saw anything, he asked them to call Provo police at 801-852-6210 or 801-852-7307.
Salgado said his niece went on a mission for the LDS Church in her native Mexico after getting a degree in industrial engineering and came to Utah to study English. She was in Provo for only a month before disappearing, he said, and had not yet learned the language.
Laguna-Salgado had mentioned that someone from school was "bugging" her to go out with him, Salgado said, but she wanted to focus on her studies and declined. King said investigators are interviewing students at the school to try to find clues to the disappearance.
On Thursday, volunteers searched along the Provo River and other areas of interest around the city and the effort continued Saturday. Participants, who must bring a valid photo ID and are subject to a background check, began meeting at 9 a.m. in the Covey Center parking lot, 100 S. 450 West, Provo.
Laguna-Salgado is described as 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-5, 120 to130 pounds, with long black hair and brown eyes.
When last seen, she was wearing a denim jacket, blue jeans, black or brown knee-high boots, and was carrying a denim hand bag with red straps.
Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 at age 14. She was held captive for nine months before police found her in Sandy. Her abductor, Brian David Mitchell, is serving a life sentence in federal prison for his crime.
Ed Smart is the director of rehabilitation for Operation Underground Railroad, which rescues children from labor and sex slavery around the world, and Elizabeth Smart sits on the organization's Board of Governors.