Missing Wyoming Woman’s Car Found Abandoned 1,100 Miles Away, But No Clue About Her

More than seven months after a Wheatland woman went missing, her car has been found abandoned 1,100 miles away in California, but there’s no clue where she might be.

Jen Kocher

June 09, 20245 min read

Hyo Jin Min went missing from her home in Wheatland, Wyoming, more than seven months ago.
Hyo Jin Min went missing from her home in Wheatland, Wyoming, more than seven months ago. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The mysterious disappearance of a Wheatland woman has had her family and friends questioning for months whether she left town on her own accord, if her life may be in danger or something worse they don’t want to contemplate.

Hyo Jin Min, now 44, was reported missing by her ex-husband, Edward Min, on Oct. 14, 2023.

He became concerned when Hyo Jin failed to pick up their son, of whom he has custody, for a prearranged visit. He texted her with no response, and two days later asked the Wheatland Police Department to do a wellness check when she still didn’t respond.

Police were unable to find her, and she was officially reported missing.

Hyo Jin’s trail from Wyoming led to Glendale, California, in Los Angeles County where the license plate on her white 2003 Oldsmobile Alero was recorded on camera on three occasions in a shopping mall parking lot in late March and early April, according to Wheatland Police Chief Doug Willadsen.

Prior to that, the license plate was caught on camera in Las Vegas on Oct. 14, the same day her former husband reported her missing, and again in a different commercial district in Glendale where her phone pinged for the last time Nov. 20. The phone is no longer in service.

Willadsen can’t confirm that it was actually Hyo Jin driving the vehicle, however, because the cameras captured only the license plate and vehicle and not the passengers in the car.

Glendale Police checked on the car May 2 and told Willadsen it appeared to have been abandoned. The detective told Willadsen he’d continue to check on the car, but as of Friday, Willadsen had not received an update and does not know if the vehicle is still there.

The Glendale Police, likewise, did not return Cowboy State Daily’s request for an update.

Runaway Or Endangered?

The question for Willadsen and others is whether Hyo Jin chose to leave on her own or if she is endangered, which Willadsen acknowledged is a fine line.

“I don't want harass this woman if she is just trying to get away and go under the radar,” he said. “But the fact that she hasn't been in touch with her son seems to be a red flag.”

Edward Min agreed when interviewed by Cowboy State Daily earlier this year.

“She is a loving mom,” he said. “She would call him and be in touch with her son.”

This fact on top of the abandoned car is worrying, said Willadsen, who just wants to know she’s safe.

Hyo Jin’s last known address is in Wheatland, according to a TruthFinder background check.

The spot in Glendale, California, where the aparantly abandoned car of Hyo Jin Min was found.
The spot in Glendale, California, where the aparantly abandoned car of Hyo Jin Min was found. (Google Maps)

Mysterious Disappearance

Prior to apparently leaving Wyoming, Hyo Jin appeared to be struggling, Edward Min said. His son had told him that she had just been evicted and lost her job.

Hyo Jin, who is originally from South Korea, moved to Wheatland about a decade ago to marry Edward. The couple had been introduced by friends but divorced after two years. Hyo Jin was not happy in Wheatland, Edward said, but remained in town to be near her son and worked mostly as a housekeeper at the Motel 8.

She didn’t speak English well, Edward noted, which further alienated her from the community. As a result, she largely kept to herself.

Cowboy State Daily spoke to one friend who asked to remain anonymous who said that Hyo Jin seemed to suffer from paranoia and other mental instabilities, but was devoted to her son, who in her mind she would have never left behind.

After losing her housing, Hyo Jin had been receiving help from a local church who had also given her money to go to Colorado, Edward said he’d been told by the police. The church did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s phone call or emails.

Still No Contact

There’s also the possibility that Hyo Jin may have gone to California to visit the South Korean Embassy to renew her passport, something she indicated at some point to her son she planned to do, or even returned home to South Korea, Edward said.

That possibility is unlikely, however.

To his knowledge, Hyo Jin did not have contact with her parents or family, and he has no idea how to get in touch with them.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also does not have a record of her passport being used to fly in and out of the country, Willadsen said.

Min said he is worried because she has not contacted their son but also can’t say if she is intentionally missing.

Hyo Jin Min is one of 91 people currently reported as missing throughout the state dating back to 1974, according to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation’s missing person database.

Hyo Jin has brown hair and eyes and is approximately 5-foot, 2-inches tall weighing around 170 pounds.

Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to contact the Wheatland Police Department at 307-322-2141 or DCI at 307-777-7181. People can also submit an anonymous tip on DCI’s website. People in California with information can contact the Glendale Police Department at 818-550-4400.

Contact Jen Kocher at jen@cowboystate.daily.com

Hyo Jin Min
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Jen Kocher can be reached at jen@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter