ELKO — A local family is looking for justice any way they can find it.
As a grieving family mourns the loss of 29-year-old Stephanie Gonzalez Estrada, a reward fund has been set up in her honor to help resolve her murder.
Called Stephanie’s Reward Fund, donations can be made at either location of the Elko Federal Credit Union by informing the teller of the name of the fund.
All funds raised will be distributed to the person or persons who provide information leading to the capture and conviction of Gonzalez Estrada’s killer.
Gonzalez Estrada is believed to have been murdered by her estranged husband Eduardo Puentes Estrada nearly a year ago. Shortly after the murder, he fled Elko and is believed to be in a western state or in Mexico.
After a year of investigating and collecting evidence, officers with the Elko Police Department are certain of what happened to Gonzalez Estrada, said Elko Police Chief Don Zumwalt. With a warrant out for Estrada’s arrest, all that is left to do is find him.
It’s a challenge the department hasn’t had before.
“We’ve never had a case like this, where we had a suspect we needed and couldn’t find him,” said Zumwalt.
Initially the police department considered setting up a similar fund to encourage public response, however, due to the department’s funding within the City of Elko, it wasn’t possible to budget an account for the money. From there Gonzalez Estrada’s family took it over, and are spearheading the account.
“I hope it generates a lot of support,” said Elko police Lt. Rich Genseal. “The more we can get out to the public, and the more support she can garnish, the more likely it is someone will come forward.”
Both the police department and the family of Gonzalez Estrada are relying on the public’s help to solve the case. Her story was featured on a January episode of “America’s Most Wanted,” and the family has continued to keep her story alive within the community.
“Any time there are extra eyes there, it’s going to make a difference,” said Yvette Waters, executive director of the Committee Against Domestic Violence. “The more people that know keeps the concept and the knowledge out in the public, that we still have a murderer on the lose.”
Though no longer directly involved with the fund, Genseal and Zumwalt said both they and the remainder of the department are in support of it, and are hopeful the knowledge of a reward will lead to the capture of those responsible.
“We hope it will generate a lot of public support and generate some leads on this case,” said Genseal, who added that without input and assistance from the public, officers “are kind of sitting idle on this.”
“We would like to see closure not only for the family, but for the police department. Any time you have an open murder case that’s unresolved, it’s depressing — a black cloud,” said Genseal.
Estrada should be considered armed and dangerous. He is a member of the Hispanic street gang Sur13, police said. Anyone who has seen him or has information on his whereabouts should call Elko Central Dispatch at 777-7300 or Elko police at 777-7310.