Private investigator continues three-year search for missing Taos woman

May 23, 2019

TAOS — Three years after Holly White, a former manager of the Taos Center for the Arts, was reported missing, the private investigator hired to find her says White could still be alive.

“I’ve had a strong feeling she might be alive because there have been so many sightings of her in different places,” Elaine Graves, who continues to search for White, said in a recent interview.

She rattled off a list of places where people have reported seeing White: Durango, Colo.; Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.

A leading theory was that White had jumped to her death — her blue Ford Escape was found parked at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge rest area after she disappeared. But her body was never found.

A year ago, Graves said she was convinced White was murdered. She declined to disclose why her thoughts have shifted and emphasized she’s not ruling out the possibility that White is dead.

White, a tall, blond, green-eyed woman, was reported missing May 6, 2016, just a few months before her 50th birthday and weeks before she had planned to move to Albuquerque to join her husband, Jeff White. She had a job lined up in the city. A farewell party was planned for her at the Taos Center for the Arts, where she had worked for 22 years. But she didn’t show for either engagement.

The morning she went missing, White had been scheduled to go for a walk with her close friend, Cynthia Arvidson, but she missed that as well.

After her vehicle was found, law enforcement officers and river guides conducted multiple searches for her body. Many more searches have been conducted since then — in the gorge and elsewhere around the county where tips have come in — but they’ve all been unsuccessful.

If White did jump from the bridge, Graves said, it would likely mark the first time in a long history of suicides at the gorge that a body has not been recovered.

Over the past three years, Graves has traveled across the country, following up on reported sightings of White.

As those tips lead Graves to dead ends, she keeps returning to a strategy she believes could hold answers to White’s whereabouts: DNA testing, a method that has solved many cold cases.

She has a new partner in the search for White, Graves said, and the pair plan to test several items left in White’s home, along with a black shoe similar to one White had worn that was found in the Rio Grande after she went missing.

Graves declined to name the new partner but said they are taking tips.

Anyone with information on White can contact Graves at 575-613-3415 or on the Find Holly White Facebook page at bit.ly/2PQVOSM.

This story first appeared on the website of The Taos News, a sister publication of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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