In mid-June of 2017, 36-year-old Antonio Vela spent an evening hanging out at a local bar in Victoria, Texas. He left right before closing and told the bartender that he planned to grab some food and head home for the night. Hours later, Antonio’s roommate woke up and was getting ready for the day when he decided to take the trash out. He exited the home through the garage, where he found a strange scene. Antonio’s car wasn’t there, but his snacks and phone were lying on the ground. That was when he realized that Antonio wasn’t home and that something wasn’t right. Antonio’s roommate started calling around and asking on social media if anyone had seen him. As Antonio’s family learned he was missing, they began frantically searching for him. More than four and a half years have passed, and they are still searching for answers.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Antonio Vela Jr., who also goes by TJ or Speshul Ed, please contact the Victoria Police Department at 361-485-3700 or Crimestoppers at (361) 572-4200.
To find Claudia Rivero's coverage of Antonio's case, please check out her website and YouTube channel.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
He, prime members, you can listen to the vanished ad free on amazon, music download the app today he didn't need a car living and, of course, encourage others to follow their dream. You know keep working hard. To put your mind into thing. You can get thing get what you want
your life. If you get a lot of things, hurt for people and had so much compassion for life and to help people when we were in me,
being a member and waken up
every day, not now
going to leave the eu
down the thinking about it? Ok, maybe we'll get a phone call today,
maybe tomorrow when it comes to the coverage, the media coverage of missing people- men, especially men of color, don't get a whole lot of media attention. It's very difficult to get them to get wall to wall coverage that we see with other high profile cases that, just realistically speaking, that is just not going to happen, and so outside of Victoria texas, Antonio's case isn't really known. You'll find that with Antonio's family they are dirt, they've been desperate. You know, they're, like nobody wants to talk about it. Police
very tightly from the start. It's really eerie king in mid june of two thousand, seventeen thirty
six year old, Antonio vila an evening hanging out local bar in Victoria texas. He left shortly before closing
hold the bar tender that he was going to grab some snacks and had home for the night
hours later. Antonios roommate woke up and was getting ready for his day when he d
Did you take the treasure
He exited home through the garage where he found a strange, seen, Antonia
car wasn't there, but it's snakes
phone were lying on the ground. It almost appeared
There have been some sort of struggle inside the garage. That's
we realise that antonio wasn't home and that something wasn't right at home.
Those roommate started calling around and asking on social media. If any one had seen him
tony S, family learned that he was missing. They began frame
typically searching for him and war
four and a half years later there still searching for answers.
Marisa, in from wondering this episode, three hundred and thirty four of the vanished in tone
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was brought to us in two thousand twenty one by claudia rivero, Claudia
as a journalist who spends much of our time working on under reported cases. She has helped us.
some other stories that we ve covered in the past
You may remember Claudia from our episodes on Jan tell Johnson and a key agustin when we spoke to claude.
we asked her to tell us how she became interested in antonios case antonios cave caught. My attention
for several reasons. I actually saw a poster and missing fire on social media and when I saw it caught my attention, because Antonio with thirty six years old, when he disappeared, he's a hispanic male realistically speaking, his case is not one that was going to generate a whole lot of media coverage outside of Victoria and that something that's always been frustrating to his family, because, given the location of where his vehicle was found and we'll talk about that in a minute, but given the location of where the car was found, they feel that what ever happened to Antonio, it's very likely very puff.
well. That is not even in victoria anymore, so they have always tried to get his story out to a wider audience. You know in Victoria they have covered it, the the media, the local media there, especially the victoria advocate they have been following the case from the beginning, and they continue to do a coverage as the years go on, but outside of that Antonio's case is really not known. There's a lotta like stereotyping that was originally done immediately done. I should say when it comes to Antonio and again being he's thirty six
No, he said hispanic mail, you into rap music, he's in to the underground wrapped battle which, if not for
we're audience. So there is already stereotypes that automatically
lose him and just being a man and a grown man, it exclude them from getting any media coverage
Claudia has an interest in these cases that don't get much media attention and she.
that we do to and that's why.
He came to us to ask us to cover antonio story. We won,
to learn more about antonios life, so claudia connect.
Ass to one of Antonio sisters. Natalie in she told us about
up with the entire neo on the orders of the family and he's a younger brother,
and between me and hell, we're like about ten years apart. He was the only boy of the family. I have a younger sister me at my sister
three years apart and then him my sister were seven years apart and
he was born in cairo and I took care of him. I was a day that I was able to take care of himself son. My mom was
projecting protective. He was the only boy, though my dad so
We had to be really care, for. You is a special one he liked to play here.
the hang out with us, allied, he loved music. You owe me, since you were here
you just love music. It was
clear from early on that Antonio had a love of music Natalie,
explain how she encouraged antonio to start journaling at a young age which lay
turned into writing his own music and eventually a career path. Fran Tonia inside
came to the age of five. He was learning how to write, and one day he came into my room and after what I was doing
He usually does that just to check to see what I'm doing and will sit and talk for one day. I was writing in my journal and I was sitting on the bed and he's like hey what you do is like. Oh I'm, just writing a few things and how my day was and he's like. Well, what do you mean? It's like? Oh no, this is whatever is going on in the day was we call journal? We just it's just a piece of paper. You just write down how you feel for that day or what would happen to you that day or just write out your feelings. Sometimes, if he had a hard day you just write out your feelings sometimes makes you feel better go sleep
earning how to write. You can do that and needle practice, you, your purchase rating practice, your handwriting, his eye all came though you know, as he starts getting older he one day. He is like
What I'm doing guess what I'm doing. I am writing my thoughts down without good every since then he started making, though the writings a he did he made in his music.
and that's why I started off. He got older and then he started. He told himself how to play the piano. Easter learning had
use a computer in herself taught himself and doing everything to do with the music making music off the computer
from instrument and then combined together in recording it into the computer. Then, of course, it makes me taken in
He told me what he wanted to do at his future within opened up his own studio, which he did he started making his armies.
Recording his own
Is it a meaning to see these in turn,
you started out small. He worked other
ah, but inside gigs, along the way in order to buy equipment and build his dream of working in the music industry. He used to be a bar gender as you when he first are to get his job different jobs here and there and that's how he started out with is legally binding equipment or things like
He would part can even do our job cycle and help fix things in mind. My god, he does a lot of body work, embody shop, carpentry
so he no, he wouldn't have my guy, wouldn't my dad had some side jobs because my dad worked for a chemical plant and he until he retired, but I mean he would do odd jobs, different people on the side to help me.
Extra money and he will make extra money to buy whatever equipment he wanted or supplies for his recording, or you know to pay for his advertising and stuff like that. So that's how he started beginning to know a lotta people on top
to do anyone that wanted to start their music. He started encouraging them. Hey you know you can do. Is I can help you
and then he no help and record, and indeed they were going to do some studio time in practice and thus putting
much more how his music started out and then
are you doing on battle wrapping
in that movie, he did that they there's. This group called tbl here in texas, there's like different cities.
Throughout the texas. There are in this, it's called texas battle league and they are
pete against each other in its freestyle robin he set his music up to
foreigny anti new york he's scrubbed different context and you all over the united states is with.
his music. Often
travel alight with his music and, of course, the battle wrapped in which was pretty cool.
By two thousand seventeen. Now thirty
six year old Antonia was living in Victoria texas with a roommate
and enjoying the life he had built around his music and how
in other artists produced music of their own too, and he had his own play. He was saving up to buy it. He was renting it at the time and he would save enough money to actually combine got house or he was living in. He did,
romania is known, was room for a very long time whenever he saw what he saw, the other, whose, like his best friend he treated
treat each other like brothers, my mom is like his mom mama
freedom is a fan. He was still going music Cromer here with others producing his music in doing studio time, recording others.
Antonia was trying to get his name out there. He had a big personnel,
de and was always looking out for others along the way and airy and every by ended matter who they were, what they did
He would always you know, acknowledge them. Say hello in you is that friendly. He saw someone in trouble if there were
fine goin fight. He see something someone that words like danger. You know he would go in
they separated in own hey. Let's go that's what you're redirect there's a few p
They come to me, nor how he help them and take care of them and one time this girl
was coming out of the bar and her boyfriend was being really rough with her and she was breaking up with him. He got mad pushed her in my brothers
and then gave in between them before the guy hitter things
to be going well for Antonio, in its day to day life, he was
working on his music living with his foot.
And roommate and they're just wasn't,
anything going on in his life that anyone was aware of that they should have been concerned about
tony, I hadn't voiced concerns for safety to any one. So when he disappeared
it was shocking to his friends and family. Claudia
has been researching antonios disappearance for the past few years and she gave us some information about what is known about the night. Antonio vanished. Let me start with victoria texts for people that aren't familiar so victoria taxes is a city of about sixty five thousand five hundred people according to the latest census data it surrounded by the bigger, more well known cities of taxes, for you have you
in two hours to the north. You have san Antonio to the west and then corpus christie, south its close to the shore to the coastline, and so it's sort of a street gateway to the other big cities in texas, Antonia was born and raised.
victoria texas. His whole family is in that area. The case of Antonio Bela junior begin the night of june fourteenth it's a wednesday night june thirteenth. Two thousand seventeen antonio heads out for the evening to a local pub that he frequented, often it's called sports its located in the victorious square shopping center. It's a strip mall a fairly large strip mall and in that strip mall
There are other businesses, including a video store right next door. There there's some dry cleaners and there's another smaller bar, just a couple of doors down from sports. So, according to his friends Antonio heads up for the night, he starts by at the smaller bar first Antonio, he goes there. He says hello to a few of his friends, has a drink and then makes us.
they offer to sports, and this is a bar where it's a local hang out. It's not far from his home, where he was living at the time
everybody. There knows him a lot of the staff pretty much all the fat knows, Antonio, and he goes by two nicknames. There's t J and he's also known as special ed the story behind special ed according to his friend that he had a learning disability growing up, and so there with special education classes, eddie within and saw the name to stock, and he used the nickname so that for special, that comes from so he at sports. Everybody knows him. The staff, the bartenders he's right.
if he's there that night, according to his friend, who was bartending Antonio walked in it, was sort of you know. It sort of reminds me of norm on cheers where he walked in remember, and everybody knows the norm and waves at him and the same thing with Antonio. Everyone knew him so he's there that night by himself, which was also pretty common and, according to his friend, he didn't notice anything strange anything different about antonio. He seemed fine, so he's there up until almost closing time, the only thing
It seemed different that was different according to the friend that night about Antonio was that he left a little bit early. Usually he would stay until closing time and sometimes well after closing time. He would help them clean up the bar and he or he would play the piano for for the staff that night. According to his friend, he left at around one forty five, which was know last call. It was right around that time. He said he was leaving and, according to his friend, the only thing he said was that he was going to go to the store, and so he left a little bit early. He waved at everybody and then walked out of sport, and he has never been seen.
or heard from again, and so this is now around one. Forty five june fifteenth two thousand. Seventeen Antonio was someone who was closed with his family and kept in contact with him
on a regular basis on the moon,
of june fifteenth, they became cons.
And when no one could reach Antonio so late,
that day. His family is trying to get a hold of antonio they're, calling him and he's not returning anybody cop, and that was the first red flag for the family, because, although they didn't see each other every day, there are always able to get a hold of one another and Antonia according to his family. He was very good about always picking up the phone or always returning phone calls right away or text messages, and that wasn't happening. Their biggest red flag came when and Tonia father was trying to get a hold of him and Antonia was picking up the phone and wasn't returning his father's phone calls and that really stood out, because apparently they had a really close relationship and if in tunis, father needed to get a hold of him and Tonia always picked up the phone or always immediately called us tat back the when that wasn't happening. They began to panic for at this point there calling his friends to see if he's with
or if they have heard from him. Nothing have you heard of circle yet spelled see I
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most of Antonio's family lives in victoria, texas
trying to track him down
Natalie no longer lives in victoria and
told us how she became aware that something was wrong. I found out for my picture
call me and asked me if I've seen him up. I've heard from him. I always texting call him every week in a couple of times a week just to see how you doing is alive and galiodin. He let them at all
So we can see each other every day, but you,
we saw our mom. You always talked to my mom and dad cause. They go within Victoria and my sister I'm like actually know them. I talked to them,
It was like those in your firing of the week before, and this happened on the daily.
hey missing. Like one day she called me thursday afternoon
and then, unlike know, why he's like you haven't been facebook
mom and dad laugh and call you
you know why you re at that time. I use facebook, a whole lie and those people to look at facebook, and then I found Facebook all these
suggest asking! No, have you seen him love thing from a good friends like on
facebook lie that their walking down the street car in his name and looking for
Have you seen him? Have you seen him like why, in the world
Like I dont understand, then they
for me antonios roommate, who reported that he had found.
a strange seen inside their garage that morning, when he went to take,
the trash out causing
tony his family to become even more concerned at some point that day on june fifteenth they get a phone call from internal roommate at the time who reportedly tells the family that when he woke up
Antonio, wasn't there he wasn't, he wasn't at the house
and then he noticed that internal car was not in the garage and abroad store with open, and he also reportedly told the family that he found some items on the ground, one of them being in turn your cell phone. Now this has been confirmed by victory, a police. This is coming from what the roommate reportedly pulled a family, so he finds a cell phone any find the plastic bag with some food in it, so suggesting that maybe internal gets that by to get something to eat when he left the bar and now is it when the family heard that information his mother, you know her motherly instinct told her. Something happened to my son, so they reported to the police right away
Police begin their investigation at the same time, Antonia sisters are they take the social media during a phone call, with her sister Natalie learned about how antonios roommate had found his phone and snacks in the garage and she knew
but she had to jump into action. Something
We didn't want to worry you, but then you know, with the things on the left on the ground in his vehicle gone did have making sense. He wouldn't leave his stuff on the fly in on the floor and his cell phone on top of that, so they're like we didn't, he didn't make any sense least. She did say the police was called a.
He's been made, everybody with were all calling hospitals in the surrounding area.
Missing, along with the antonio, was his car and his family
that finding the car could be the key to finding Antonio. So they say
there. There are started doing an investigation in thirteen per vehicle on Friday morning me and my sister. We were both that work tat morning and we call each other. I can't I can't just sit here. We need legal physically looking for his vehicle, so we asked them
if work, so we can go and search for him ourselves and my dad was already out looking the impossible places, of course, because you never know, though he was driving around bridges
in different places where my brother would go his other friends house that he knew loved at the hollywood go to as he was driving me and my sister were driving looking from parking lots of parking lot to see me,
his car was there? And so my? Ah, when my cousins, she said a friend of hers that lived out in the country, texted her and said the picture of my brother's vehicle and asked if this was my brother's vehicle
like send a picture, so we can see and where is she located so she sent that picture to us and we're like? Yes, that's his car and she said: will she pack the car that morning that friday morning actually was the thursday morning and she had reported
it's just to the police there, and I know that there was a vehicle. You know as a flat tire and just wanted reporters that we don't. She doesn't know whose it is or maybe hopefully, they'll come back for it or whatever, and she didn't think anything of it until she saw on facebook that everybody was looking for him, though me and my sister got the directions on where the vehicle or his vehicle with that and that's how we found it. My deck called the sheriff to. Let them know that the car was that way
the car they sent the team out there doing their their search, doing her research and reporting on this case, claudia
traveled from her home in pennsylvania to texas in order
look into the case further claudia,
a video about the case with interviews with antonios family and some people who
at the bar the night. He disappeared, also
the video which you can find uncourteous website and new to channel
you can also see video footage of the area where antonios car was recovered its farmland.
As far as I can see,
no known reason for Antonio to have been out in this area on the night that he disappeared, cod
you told us more about where the car was found. His sister Natalie posted a missing fire.
of Antonio and also a description of his vehicle, which was a pontiac firebird, light and color, and so there are spreading all that information on on social media. You know that at this point very very worried that something happened to Antonio the next day. This is now Friday june, sixteenth, a resident reaches out to the family and tell them that she spotted a vehicle matching. The description of antonio pontiac firebird part along bungler road now bangalore road is located outside a victorious city limit. This is now in the city of anne S. When the family gets this information, Antonia sisters and their dad, they rushed over to be
I seem to see if it's the vehicle they get there and sure enough. It's Antonio's car, it's just parked along the dirt road. Now, just to give you an idea of bungler road is surrounded by cotton fields and cornfields. So it's a very wide open area and Antonio cars just parked along the side of the road. It has a flat tire. According to the family inside the vehicle, nothing seemed out of place if you will and other words, nothing suggested to them that some kind of a struggle took place inside the vehicle. A lot of Antonio's personal belongings were in the car, but the car was just parked. It was, it was lost,
in its sat there along the side of the road and even just talking to you about it. It gives me the chilled, because the family, when I went out there to talk to them, they took us too to this location, and it is a really wide areas around it again. Bodies
corn fields and cotton field and not a whole lot more, and that is it. Antonio has not been seen or heard from sense. It has. If he fell off the face of the earth, never could be seen or heard from again again. Victoria police have been very tight about the case
they won and I notice that they really haven't released any additional information that is different from what they released in the beginning, which is basically that he is missing, call victoria police or crimes
Claudia, had learned about Antonio's disappearance and took an interest
She started out making a youtube, video and publishing in article two her website
he told us that she was surprised by the responses that began to flood her inbox in the comment section on her website and social media platforms. Now the interesting thing here is that when I first did a story I did
video. Maybe a minute long, video that we posted to youtube about antonio case. It was almost immediately that the streets started talking basically and they started posting negative information about Antonio
referring to him as being involved in criminal activity that either all anonymous post the course preferring to him ass,
a drug dealer or or being involved in that type of activity, calling him a snitch etc. And I just found that interesting because I'm on the east coast, not in texas- and at that point I really hadn't publicized that, but you know Antonio's case
that much so the fact that people found their way over to to me and to our website was was sort of interesting that it was immediate that they started posting
After the other, all this negative information about him. The police have not confirmed any of those rumours or allegations whatever happened to Antonio. Obviously,
police probably know a lot more than but everything to the public, but
doing my own research to put together
story a longer piece on Antonio. You know you talk to you not only his family, his friend and obviously we also do checks of it. Let's see what is
industry. As far as law enforcement, any run ins etc, and he does have a few marks on on his record they're all class a misdemeanor. Then one goes back to two thousand and five when his two thousand and seven the most recent was in two thousand and sixteen it was a dui, but there's nothing there. That tells you a ha. You know. There's a lung
history of this this is what may have happened. There is not really anything you can pieced together from from that public record information. That tells you ok. This is a person
may have had this going on or not it. It's sort of hard to piece together a story on him other than to say this is the guy who was well known in Victoria. He was well light. He had a lot of friends. He was a local music producer. He produced his own, his own music and also for other
local artists in dictatorial, you to me every one that I spoke to describe them as it is being shy. He had a very quiet demeanor about him, but he was funny you with carrots matic and he with creative, and there is a lot of people that just openly when they do talk to us on the record refer to him. It is a very nice person. Again I go back to the the also the things that were posted anonymously about him. Those people tell it. You know this, this other information, all these allegations and suffers family. It's been very difficult because before and tony disappeared, he was always surrounded by people. He had a lot of connections, he had contract. We had a lot of friends. He stayed in touch with people as soon as he disappeared. There was a silence that surrounded his case
and it was very helpful and frustrating to this day. It still is to the family, because you know, obviously someone knows what happened to him and at the end of the day, regardless of what the story is at
the day. The bottom line is, this is still a missing person. This is still somebody's son, somebody's brother and it's also another unsolved case that is added to the numbers of missing persons, not just in texas but across the country. It is another cold case and let's keep in mind that the guy's not here to defend himself so people who have taken to social media to post things, derogatory things and and
You know allegations in here say about why they claim he was into or wasn't into or with doing or not doing, he's not here to defend himself put very easy to tarnish someone who's a missing person. It's very easy for people to do that, especially if the person is here to speak for themselves, and I feel that that's the case there within Tonia. Given you know that he was inter rap music there, the stereotypes and it's sort of like ok prove it proved that all of this with her
the name because he's not here. I can't ask him: I can only ask a family and and people who know him and everybody talks about him in a positive way. I've done cases where people don't talk about someone in a pilot
why you don't you find out, and you learn about the person, but within tony sort of like habits, evil kind of a child,
well the normal kind of like a child, the like personality, he liked comic books. He was very much. He had a fascination for clots, whether it was a grandfather, clock, room, old, school type of of clock. He was into that, so it it's just you'd find out all these little bits and pieces about the person, but there's nothing there that I can say. Okay,
This is what what's going on the vague allegations that people have made about. Antonio, have never lead anywhere. If you had over two claudia
website you can read some of them for yourself, one says that he snitch on
other says dealing dope
trash talking, folks and wrap songs might lead to this.
yet another one says: cocaine. Dealer goes missing. Not shocking thing is, though,
but no one ever offers any information to back up these claims. In turn,
criminal history doesn't support that. He was involved in any serious criminal activity beyond driving under the influence which NATO
told us that city served community service for good this all.
Diversion or is there more to it, antonio
was well known and light within the community, but the family has been surprised by the fact that all
Please, for answers have been met with silence,
for these anonymous accusations online it most
the cases that we cover. There is someone in the missing persons circle who stands out as suspicious with
it's a significant other friend family member or acquaintance
hasn't happened with antonios case. As far as we know, his friends have never come
or were to say that he had any problems with any one in there
simply hasn't been a clear motive that any once been able to establish an tone
his family- has been met with silence from the local community and all
from law enforcement. Could that mean,
Perhaps law enforcement is working on this and keeping their cards close to the vast in order to protect their
investigation. We contacted the victoria
least department to request records and an interview they declined.
request, citing that this case is open and active. One thing that
have to wonder about when the community is so quiet about a case is fear other people
out there who know something and are too afraid to speak, we tried to talk to more people in
Korea who knew antonio- and we too were
with silence, everyone seemed reluctant to talk
seemed scared, since the
these have been so tight lipped about the case and if not released, much information to the media or even
the family. There are
the questions that we have about. Antonios disappearance set we haven't been able to get answers to like did they find
thing during searches of antonios, car or home. That pointed to a
central suspect or backed up or refuted these claims that
blood made anonymously online about Antonio? We know that
antonio didn't have his phone on him when he disappeared, because, as roommate
on the floor of the garage, but who was
Antonio tony a lasting contact with. Could he have planned
meet someone that night there were some
questions and so few answers
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thinking about what we know about the night Antonio disappeared
It seems as though he made it back to his home, at least in
the garage because, that's worse
and snacks were found, but his call was gone and
or found many miles away. Claudia told us
if the different scenarios that have been tossed around about what could have occurred that night, it's one of two scenarios right. So is it a situation where somebody followed Antonio, when he left the bar and followed him home? Was this a crime of opportunity or was someone waiting for him when he got home and he was
specifically targeted with the ambushed when he got home, given the information that will relate to the family and that sort of like the the million dollar question, which one was it whatever happened to Antonio happened in the darkness happen in the middle of the night.
However, his car ended up on bengal road. The bottom line is Antonio, fell off the face of the earth and has never been seen or heard from again, but given the location of whereas car with found his
only you know. They believe that whatever whatever happened, probably it's very
likely that Antonio may not even be in Victoria the strange case,
eerie kazan when we were out there and just stand.
out there in your looking around like, but there is nothing here like where, with a very eerie feeling being
on that road and just picturing the car and in the fact that had happened in the middle of the night. What happened to him? Someone knows, and it doesn't really make sense that it was random it just doesn't. It doesn't make sense to me like if they didn't take his phone. You know
Do people want people for they want to phone? They want your purse, they want money, they want. Whatever some of those things were allegedly left behind, it doesn't seem like he was robbed and then wouldn't they take the car a wouldn't they at least take whatever was inside the car if they found something valuable. You know- and I just didn't happen,
who knows for natalie. She finds everything about her brothers disappearance to be suspicious, not elite,
just some information about how the car was found, that
two wondering if someone else had been driving it, you don't river
worn on the ground in your your things on the ground. So the only thing we all think of that someone went from behind and they could have gone gunpoint. They could have grabbed him and then take his vehicle or take him with the vehicle or they had another vehicle. That part we just don't know where me and my sister found his vehicle by facebook in it out
buoys out in the country way out there that you really need to know. You really need to know your surroundings in order to just drive in the middle of the night over there and it look like a flat tire and the and the car was locked and we don't believe he was driving the vehicle because of the way the vehicle's seat was he's. Six foot and the seat was close to the steering wheel and then he's not a smoker, and we see a passenger window down a little bit like someone was smoking out of it. You know when people smoke they let the window down a little bit like the smoking out of that of a car isn't difficult. Things like that were like no, he couldn't have been driving the truck the car and then for it to be way out there after you left. The bar is like close to two o'clock in the morning, so you know
dark matter be dark out there in the country with no lighting, and that's not what I think like in revenge wise that you know. Maybe he defended the wrong. You know he defended somebody and that person that he defended it may be dated something there's so much taught that that's come out that they would say. Oh maybe he crossed somebody. Maybe he said something wrong to
and I'm not gonna. Take it out on yemen that you're gonna hurt him. Claudia is hope,
Will that by getting more attention to an case that it will
bring in some leads up, will point them in a new direction. It would be a good time now.
then more than four year? That would be a good time for whoever does know something to contact the victoria police department and give them that information. It's time the family deserves
some answers and they wanted to bring him home one way or another. They acknowledge it's been more than four years. You know the chances of him still being with us. Is it diminishes the more time that goes on, but they just want to know because the whatever family says the not knowing is absolute
torture. Obviously his parents are older in it's been really hard for his father because he had such a close relationship with his son, he's the only boy and had this bond with his father, and it's just been. It's been heartbreaking. You know that
family was so desperate. I remember in the beginning they were so desperate to get the word out right away right when it mattered most, they were so desperate that they literally just they, made some signs and went out and stood on busy street from the corner of busy streets there in Victoria, near where Antonio lived, I believe near the bar, where he was last seen they were out there holding signs. You know basically begging the public for help to find them.
and it is heartbreaking, is a very difficult situation to to handle on your own when you have a missing loved one. It's just it's sort of like some families described,
it is their standing in the middle of the road and everyone else lives go on and all these cars are going by them. Every one else live go back to normal, but there are two stuck there. Life literally comes to a halt. The data loved one disappeared, and you know that a very dramatic, very difficult thing for families to live with, and I see it within Tonia family. I think such within with his mother and his sisters, and you feel the heartbreak for his mother and you see it in his father's face. You see the pain, the not knowing it, and it's just that breaks your heart. You know, regardless of what happened, regardless of what the detailed are
I go back to the same thing. This is somebody's loved one and at the end of the day the case is still unsolved. Claudius frustrations over the disparities and coverage when it comes to missing persons cases have
spired her to do the work that she dies, but she hopes
having these conversations that things will stop.
the change in every case,
will be treated with the same level of care and sense of urgency. I dont know if people really real
just how many unsolved missing persons cases there are out there and when it comes to missing people of color, like Antonio, the numbers speak for themselves, as so many cases, but yet we only here of a few back at the wall to wall coverage, but there are so many more that are equally as important and urgent and compelling, and those stories need to be told because again- and I you know- I think this is a point that I really want to make is that while antonios case may be in a small town in texas, his case is now added to the bigger picture, because it's another unsolved case and those statistics in those numbers at up and they add up and they continue to add up- and there are so many families. Then I wish the conversation could change to where we could talk about all cases in the same way as we do the very few that actually
get wall to wall national media attention, but I started doing somebody story because when it comes to missing people of color in your say that you do your research in your work and on different cases, there are not always treated the same, particularly- and I speak from my my ankle
within the media. More often than not, they are not treated the same they're not given the same urgency, the same coverage and it's sort of like, but why I need someone to explain. But why is that? Why do we cover one case, but then
another one. It's like while they said she ran away or he ran away, so they they wanted to run away. I write, but their children, children could run away mean of my husband and I d be story on our own with our own budget. We dedicate our own time and, as you know, they take a lot of time.
the story still, but through so many of them that are so interesting and
I really believe the public would be interested in in a lot of the story, but for whatever reason, within our field, it's just for so long it has
and a certain narrative when it comes to missing people and only a certain story gets on the air and it's a very hard thing to explaining to family why it doesn't happen the same way as, for example, it
then for Gabby potato, and I mention her only because it's the most recent case, but the community really does not even just the can
Maybe that's the whole nation got involved right away. Imagine if that were to happen for more cases, how many of them would be solved and cleared for law enforcement departments across the country, and I think what happens is that the family interpret that as you don't care about my missing loved one. I wish they would just stopped
think about what that translates to the family. Even though several years have passed since Antonio disappeared, his sister Natalie is still in shock and disbelief that this happened and the lack of an
There's only makes things worse. I'm still on you can say, like in shock.
I'm in limbo, let my family like we're a number which is still apparent, put her head around it because she didn't did a lot of he. He did a lot of things for four people and had so much.
passion for life and to help people when they were in need, is he they needed food. He was there. He would help them. He you know, kids, that needed school supplies. You would help go buy school supplies for them. You know I just still can't understand. What's the point, would they? Why do they do it? When you who
if it was more than one person if it was in revenge or envy, and I don't understand what you know if he would want revenge. I have not ever hurting bad talk about my butter. It's always been good, so I'm just don't understand why and what happened and still to this day.
no one knows anything, I mean many people she knew and he's held there
Nobody knows not one thing. What could possibly have happened.
being a member and waken up
every day, not now
we're going to sleep, but you,
down the thinking about it. Ok, no, maybe we'll get a phone call today,
Maybe tomorrow and then
only thing we can do is keep
living the life, because that's what he went on to do not just sit here and wallow. He he wouldn't want us to do that. A few times he's told me when I become depressed
as the got upset with the situation that I would begin almost to the end. He's like that, he shouldn't. Let that stop you from doing anything. He could keep going. You gotta do what you need to do. Get things done, but it's it's so hard because you gotta keep a smile on your face. He gotta keep august. You can pretend
you're, not upset or sad, because you missus dale merchant, just wanna, know not knowing how hard, despite the soil
when it comes to tips and leads about what happened to Antonio Natalie explain
The community has shown up to support them in ways that they never expected to see. He knew so many people I mean I didn't really now. He knew that mean you. Click on to all these people started message me and thoroughly answer.
Sorry, I knew you brother, he helped me do I'm so sorry, I let him hear so many different story
who was standing on the side of the road holding his signs up in Victoria,
me and my sister, my mom, and dad we would go on the busiest road and we'd hold signs, hung for tj prayers, for you know that he be found and bringing awareness that he's still missing. People will go, go and park in the in the parking lot
and asked: can we pray with you, you know and understand it, I'm so sorry I just want to give you have done so far.
and tell me how you they knew him for a while, and then they would drive from different cities just because we would prefer facebook we're gonna meet at a certain time this day. If you want to come and join us in hold fine
joiners you know he can be in as long as you want, or just for a few minutes just come, and you know give us support, and there were people that would do that. I mean that was awesome, that they would go and do that to help support his show his face out there, and then it would send flyers out and they would take flyers with them through their city and path,
well, there's other people that didn't even know us but knew my brother or even to complete strangers that just moved into town. They didn't know him but heard our story. They were like I'll help. You I'll help you spread. The word tell me what I need to do.
That's awesome! So what happened to Antonio valla after he left the bar
shortly before closing.
early morning hours of june fifteenth two thousand seventeen. We know that he too
bar tender, that he was going to go pick up some snacks and head home for the night we
Nowhere Antonio may have stopped to get those snacks but its belief that he did
stop somewhere because the phone
When de Antonio's
may want to take the trash out through the garage and found an unusual seen inside the door was open in it
when your cell phone and bag of snacks was on the ground
no sign of antonio or his car. The car would later turn up
seventeen miles away, abandon
on the side of a rural dirt road in an area surrounded by farmland. The call had a flat tire, but
It jumped out a strange about the car, except that the seat was pulled up
search the wheel like some,
shorter than Antonio had been driving.
Really, where the lead sort of end. On antonios case law,
recent hasn't been very vocal about antonios disappearance, so we
no, what evidence they may have uncovered or who they may have interviewed since that time.
It's been mostly silent with some anonymous whispers online internal,
His family doesn't know who would have had a motive to harm him. They wonder if he was randomly targeted for some reason, while he was out late at night, if he
random, randomly targeted. Could that be
there is no clear ties to anyone in Antonia close circle making this case so
the call to solve
and why they haven't gotten much in the way of tips needs. But why would
choose to home, Antonio, randomly
went out to intentionally harm Antonio that night in the motive just
simply hasn't been uncovered? It could have been
whom that night in some sort of altercation took place when Antonio got out of his car causing
drop, is phone and agri food markets
I've been waiting inside the garage for antonio to return from the bar, it would have
These rumours online is there any truth to them. Worrisome
purposely trying to twist the narrative of
information regarding the disappearance of antonio veil, a junior who also
by t J or special ed. Please contact the victoria,
police department at three six one. Four eight five
three seven zero, zero or crimes.
Others at three six, one, five six
two for two zero, zero, hypothetically speaking at something
it happened to Antonio and he he was hurt, given that it's been four years and it's still unsolved. If someone did do something to him, what else does that person, or what else have those people done? What other missing persons cases? Could those people be involved in, and there are cases that I've investigated, that I've looked at where that is indeed the case. You have the the person that is likely to have committed the crime of a missing person. Who then goes
on. There are not a rested. There is not enough to arrest them, there's no solid case, but then those same people go on and are still committing other crimes. So it's important that people know that it's not just an unsolved case and a toy attacks. It's not just oh poor antonio. This is part of a bigger picture of missing persons cases overall, when
there is one that some thought there were thousands more when there is no concrete evidence to say this is what happened when there is no body found in it's just an open came. They are some of the hardest cases to investigate.
brings us to the end of episode. Three hundred and thirty, four I'd like to think natalie and Claudia for speaking with us
if you have a missing loved one that you'd like to have featured on the show, there's a case submission form at the vanished, podcast dot com. If you'd like to join in on the discussion, there's a page and discussion group on facebook, I'm on twitter at the vanished pot and also on instagram, if you enjoy the show subscribe now and leave a five star review on apple podcasts, spotify or wherever you're listening right now, do you want to help support the show? There are a couple of things that you can do. One way to help the vanished is by supporting our sponsors. You can find links and promo codes in the episode notes. Another way to support the show is by contributing on patria, where you can get early and ad free episodes be sure to tune in next week, we'll be covering a case from Oregon. Thanks for listening, the
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Transcript generated on 2022-11-24.