Police Hunt for 3 Missing Women in Santa Ana

Three women with similar backgrounds disappear about the same time from the same area

Police have opened missing persons cases involving three women who vanished around the same time from a location known as a haven for drug dealing and prostitution.

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The women -- identified as Kianna Jackson, Josephine Vargas, and Martha Anaya -- disappeared after Aug. 13. Vargas and Anaya were known to frequent the area of First Street between Grand Avenue and the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway in Santa Ana, police said.

Anaya’s mother, Herlinda, fears the worst.

"I'm afraid something bad has happened to my daughter,” she said.

Priscilla Vargas admits her daughter has a history of drug use. But she says the 34-year-old would never leave her children behind.

“I don't sleep,” she said. “I have bags under my eyes.”


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Jackson arrived in Orange County via bus at the Santa Ana terminal, but she checked into a motel in Costa Mesa, before disappearing days later. Detectives cannot connect Jackson to the First Street area.

“While these women were not directly associated with one another, their similar backgrounds are cause for concern and may indicate the disappearances are related,” the Santa Ana Police Department said in a press release. “There is no definitive evidence which has been located to date to indicate these women were abducted or were victims of foul play, however detectives have not ruled that out.

“Each of the three missing persons cases will be given an attentive, diligent, and responsive investigation.”

A fourth woman, Andrea Nichole Palma-Thomas, was reported missing and initially thought to be connected to these cases, but she was found in Anaheim Hills on Tuesday.

Her disappearance is not connected to the others, police said.

“With some of them there are prostitution arrests, but that's not relevant to the fact that they are missing,” Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, a spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.

Anyone with information related to the disappearances is encouraged to contact the Santa Ana Police Department at 714-245-8393 (Investigative Specialist Debbie Velarde-Reyes) or OC Crimestoppers at 855-847-6227.

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