Hello and welcome to our GoFundMe Page – a page I wish we’d never needed.
Two plus years ago when we started this page, we knew almost everyone who would visit it in the months that followed. But now, with the publication of our sons’ story in the Dallas Morning News,
there are those of you here who we will never have the opportunity to meet. We assume you are here because you can’t imagine feeling what you know we must be feeling now. We assume you are here because you want to help.
Martin and I are fairly normal working parents. I was a stay at home mom who is now transitioning out of raising kids and into a career and Martin is a commercial glassman. We have a home in a little town in East Texas and have been living in Dallas since January of 2014 in order to get some training that is not available in our hometown.
The eldest of our three sons - Elijah - has gone missing from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and we’ve discovered that none of the agencies with the power of the US or the Mexican government behind them have any interest in finding him. If Elijah were anyone but the guy he is, I might at least understand. But he is not a criminal, not a drug user, was not in Cabo for fun, and doesn’t disappear without a word to one of us – ever. Even if he had disappeared under different circumstances, I might understand. But in Mexico, and particularly in Cabo, if you find yourself somewhere inconvenient to the local criminal elements there – they put a bullet in your head and leave you in the alley or on the beach. Don’t believe me? Search Cabo San Lucas tourist shootings. They do not bury the bodies. They also do not generally kidnap people and not ask for ransom. They for sure don’t kidnap people and leave a significant amount of money in that person’s bank account when they have him and access to his debit card. What has happened to our son is not ‘normal’ even for Cabo. We believe he is alive somewhere on a work farm in Mexico. A slave. So we are asking for your help, and the help of all your friends to find him.
Here is his story…
In November of 2014, our 26 year old son Elijah Hernandez went to Cabo San Lucas to spend some time doing mission work for a church called Ephesus One Congregation, which is a ministry of WayCoolAngels, Inc. out of Dallas, TX. This ministry is owned and operated by ‘Rabbi’ Raoul Garcia and Karen Faith Heller.
Elijah, a machinist & welder, turned down a job offer in Dallas. He sold his car to pay for his trip and planned on staying for a while in response to what he felt was God’s call on his life and time.
He worked in Cabo helping to build a church (or a store) in the barrio (ghetto) community of Caribe, located on the outskirts of Cabo San Lucas. It's not clear exactly what he was building as he was initially told it was a church but later a store. He lived in a storefront office just down the walk from the church’s location in a shopping center, sleeping on an air mattress. His meals were purchased at his favorite taco stand or sometimes provided by the ladies of the church, and he spent his free time hanging out with the people of Ephesus One, a small Messianic-Jewish congregation.
On Monday, January 12th according to his roommate (as reported to us by Raoul Garcia), Elijah left his room late in the evening and never returned. Two days later, on January 14th, when he did not get off his midnight flight from Mexico at Love Field in Dallas, we learned there was something wrong.
Frantic attempts to contact the 'Rabbi' of Ephesus One Congregation, Raoul Garcia that night, led to a text conversation where he told me that Elijah had left Monday night - two days before - and not come back. Elijah had missed a scheduled ‘goodbye’ outing with his friends on Tuesday and he had never arranged a ride to the airport for Wednesday morning.
[In the two years since that phone call we have learned that 'Rabbi' Raoul Garcia is not and has never been a Rabbi. We have also learned that other families right here in Dallas have suffered loss and injury through his 'ministry'.]
When I asked Raoul where he thought Elijah was, he responded that Elijah 'was an adult guest of the ministry and was free to go off partying if that's what he wanted to do'.
What?? Never mind that there was nothing in Elijah’s character, or his behavior during his time in Cabo to suggest he was off partying - my son had been missing for two full days and Raoul Garcia had not notified us or anyone official that a US Citizen had disappeared in Mexico with only his passport, wallet and cell phone on him.
Three days later Martin and I were in Cabo. We had a meeting with Raoul who spent his time trying to convince us that talking to the local police was something to be handled like an espionage assignment. And that we should not attempt – for our own safety – to go into the barrio Elijah had been working in for months or to question the people he’d been working with during that time. Raoul refused to introduce us to Elijah’s roommate (the last person to see him) citing a desire to protect the roommates’ privacy. Raoul Garcia did not invite us into his congregation. He did not rouse the people of his congregation to help or comfort us while we looked for our son.
In response to that slammed door, we connected with the local US Consulate Agent, filed a police report, filed a report with the District Attorney of Tourism, talked with the locals and met with local church congregations. No one had a clue where Elijah had disappeared to. And mostly, no one cared much either. They preferred to think he was shacked up somewhere with a beautiful girl than that he'd disappeared. I’m not kidding when I say that more than one ‘official’ suggested that if we just wait a few days, he would probably show up with a girl at his side. They did however, file the missing persons’ report and open an investigation at our insistence that Elijah was not the kind of guy they were hoping he was.
By the first week in February 2015, we had been told by the FBI and the US Embassy (State Department) that neither agency would be able to get involved in the search for Elijah due to treaties we hold with Mexico which prevent the US from investigating unless they are invited by Mexico to do so. Both agencies suggested we hire a private firm to find our son.
We hired a professional who has experience in recovering lost people. We need information and of course we need money to fund the continuing search.
But MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, if you are a praying person, we need your consistent prayers for the safety and return of our son.
Our initial goal of $100,000 was based on our team's highest expected expenses for 6-8 months of searching and a nearly $70,000 US ($1,000,000 pesos Mexican) reward we offered for information leading to the recovery of Elijah. We posted the reward offer and got NO real contacts. We had a call center set up and waiting. They took less than 10 calls and none of them were legitimate.
At this time we continue to search for leads and have been developing relationships within Mexico with people who desire to help us. All of this is without any official help. Neither the US or the Mexican government cares that our son is missing. This could be your child and they wouldn't do anything different. The last two years have shown us that our approach has to be much more personal than we expected. It's impossible to get the police, Federales and State government in Mexico to do anything - even return phone calls. If we don't find Elijah, no one else is going to do it. This means trips in and out of Mexico. This means having others ask questions for us and scout locations we cannot go to. This means money changing hands.
Please partner with us in this search. We covet your prayers. Please be available to listen to those around you and report what you may learn about the situation that is going on. Even though you may be in the US, your attention is still incredibly valuable. Those of you who are actually IN Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are the eyes and ears of our search.
Thank you all for your attention and your prayers. Thank you for being so loving and generous already. Thank you for caring so much. Thank you for your comfort.
We will find Elijah because we will not stop until we do.