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A month after Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado disappeared while walking from school in downtown Provo to her apartment, her family is getting increasingly desperate to find the young woman.
So far, no trace of the 26-year-old has turned up despite searches by police and scores of volunteers, an offer of a $15,000 reward and pleas for information from Laguna-Salgado's loved ones and others, including Elizabeth and Ed Smart.
In an email sent Wednesday, the missing woman's sister, Sara Yazmin Laguna-Salgado, who lives in the family's hometown of Chiapas, Mexico, said, "Please help us, the situation is killing us, we have so much pain."
The sister said the family wants the FBI to get involved in the investigation "as the police are not working at 100%."
But in a detailed update posted Thursday on its Facebook page, the Provo Police Department said 30 department members are actively working the case and had dedicated 3,500 hours to date to find Laguna-Salgado.
The department said it has followed up on more than 118 tips, including ones from throughout the nation; interviewed current and past roommates, students and teachers at Laguna-Salgado's school and all known sex offenders in the area; and conducted searches in the Provo area, including along the routes the missing woman might have taken at the time she vanished, from 100 North and 400 West to 1800 North and 450 West.
Police also said they have gotten assistance from numerous other agencies, including the FBI and Homeland Security, and notified immigration authorities to monitor for any border crossings.
In the posting, Provo police say that to avoid compromising the investigation, they did not list all of their efforts. Lt. Brandon Post had said after an April 25 search of the various routes and of portions of the Provo River Trail that detectives were looking at a "couple of things" that were found, but he declined to give further details.
According to her relatives, Laguna-Salgado went on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her native Mexico after getting a college degree and had come to Utah to study English. She was in Provo for less than a month before disappearing and had not yet learned the language.
Laguna-Salgado was last seen at about 1:30 p.m. on April 16, walking home from the Nomen Global 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.
At an April 24 news conference, Provo Police Chief John King said there was no proof Laguna-Salgado was abducted and nothing to indicate foul play. But investigators were concerned, he said, because she typically was in touch with her family every day. The chief also said there had been no activity on her cellphone or her credit cards.
The missing woman's uncle, Rosemberg Salgado flanked by kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart and her father, Ed Smart made a tearful plea at that news conference for help finding his niece.
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.
The requests for help have drawn hundreds of volunteers who have participated in searches, handed out fliers, spread the word about the missing woman on social media, and donated printing services and reward money. Many have never met Laguna-Salgado or members of her family but wanted to help.
One volunteer, Sylvia Haro, who has been helping to arrange news conferences and let the community know about Laguna-Salgado, said she felt like she needed to assist the family.
"I have a daughter who's about her age and I would want everyone looking if that happened to me," Haro said Friday.
She said the police are in constant contact with family members, who are "very supportive" of their efforts but get a little frustrated when they feel some tips are not being taken seriously.
"All they want is Elizabeth back," Haro said.
Sara Laguna-Salgado said her sister is her role model.
"Nothing is the same when our family awakes each day as we are missing part of us," she wrote in her email. "I wish to give her a hug very soon."
Elizabeth Elena Laguna-Salgado is described as 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-5, 120 to 130 pounds, with long black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a denim jacket, blue jeans, black or brown knee-high boots, and was carrying a denim hand bag with red straps.
Anyone with information about the woman is asked to call Provo police at 801-852-6210 or 801-852-7307.