Five Years After Wyoming Man Disappeared, New Push On To Find Him

It’s been five years since Casper resident Jose Alfredo Mendoza disappeared and although the trail is cold, local investigators are making a new push to find him.

Jen Kocher

May 31, 20243 min read

Jose Alfredo Mendoza has been missing for five years. The Casper Police Department is making a new push to find him.
Jose Alfredo Mendoza has been missing for five years. The Casper Police Department is making a new push to find him. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Casper Police Department is making a new appeal for help finding a local man who has been missing for five years.

Jose Alfredo Mendoza, who would now be 45, was reported missing by his family after he left Casper in a vehicle with an unknown friend May 5, 2019. His last known electronic footprint was in Riverton two days later.

There has since been no official sightings or communications from Mendoza, said Casper police Detective Andrea Husted.

Authorities are focusing on this last sighting in Fremont County and are asking anyone who may have seen or had contact with Mendoza at that time to come forward and share any information they have with police.

She emphasized that even small pieces of information can be crucial in solving a case and urged anyone with any information to come forward.

“A lot of people are kind of hesitant to submit tips because they don't think they're important or they don't want to waste their time or they think that we might already have that information,” Husted said, adding that all of it “is always worth reporting.”

‘Missing White Woman Syndrome’

Because of the ongoing investigation, Husted could not provide any additional information about Mendoza’s disappearance other than his connections to Casper, Sheridan, the Wind River Indian Reservation, Denver and Scipio, Utah — all places that he might be.

Not only did Mendoza's disappearance affect his loved ones, but it also resonated with Casper resident Desirée Tinoco, who was struck by the fact that someone from her community could just disappear. She’d never met him, but they have friends in common who were upset by a lack of media coverage and public interest following his disappearance.

She attributes this in part to the fact that Mendoza has a criminal record and murky past, including serving more than 10 years in prison for the 2003 death of his infant son.

Tinoco believes it was an example of the "missing white woman syndrome," a phrase coined by journalists and academics to describe how missing minorities and people with criminal histories receive less media attention, if any, compared to attractive white women.

“It just seemed that nobody cared because he wasn’t getting any attention,” she said.

She believes that all missing people deserve the same level of attention, she said, regardless of their past.

This prompted her to launch the Missing People of Wyoming Facebook page in 2019 after Mendoza disappeared. Tinoco went on to turn the group into a nonprofit three years later and also worked with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation to help create a public-facing missing person database.

And though Tinoco has never met Mendoza, their mutual friends describe him as a “sweet and caring person.”

“There are many people in the community who are genuinely concerned and miss him,” she said.

Amber Freestone, public information officer for the Casper Police Department, said that the department has been focusing heavily this past year on trying to close active missing person cases, which accounts for the push on Mendoza’s case and others.

She emphasized that Mendoza was reported missing by a family member, and that by law, the department can’t initiate searches for anyone without that person having been reported missing.

Anyone with tips or information is asked to call the Casper Police Department Tipline at 307-920-2862 or email investigators at People can also report an anonymous tip to Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations or Crime Stoppers.

Jen Kocher can be reached at

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Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter