Las Desaparecidas

Missing: The Disappearance of Barbara Ann Gould

Hi everyone,

thanks for joining me today to read about Barbara Ann Gould, a missing woman from Thoreau, New Mexico. 

I posted a small snippet about Barbara’s disappearance awhile back. I couldn’t find much about her disappearance online, so I included Barbara with a few other women who didn’t have much information on them either. 

Then two months or so ago (pregnancy + mommy brain + moving = it could’ve been more or less recent than that), a poster on Reddit commented that she was Barbara’s daughter Lisa, and we ended up DMing about her mom’s disappearance. I then called the detective in charge of Barbara’s case, used an IPRA request to find documents about it, and now here we are. I had never used an IPRA request before, but it turns out that they can be incredibly informative. Thank you to Mindy Cunningham of the Cibola County Sheriff’s Office for her help and patience with my questions! 

If you see a mistake in grammar or in facts, please let me know in the comments section. I’m afraid my writing has taken a hit due to a certain 6 week old baby. 🙂 

Barbara- courtesy of her daughter Lisa

Background

Barbara is a mother to 5 adult children who live in the Phoenix area. Barbara lived in Thoreau, a small town outside of Grants, New Mexico, which is a pretty small town itself, inside Cibola County. The Zuni Mountains are located very close to where Barbara lived. 

Mental Health

Two years prior to going missing, Barbara had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and dementia. Lisa told me she and her siblings had attempted to get help for their mother several times, but were never successful for the long term. One of Barbara’s daughters even pursued conservatorship in 2017, but it was dismissed. Schizophrenia is characterized by hallucinations (auditory and visual hallucinations are common, but altered perceptions of taste, smell, touch can also present), paranoia and psychosis. Usually schizophrenia is diagnosed in women in their early twenties or thirties, so I’m not sure why Barbara hadn’t been diagnosed until her 70’s. Regardless, her family attempted to get Barbara care but found it very difficult. It is not uncommon for folks with schizophrenia to stop taking necessary medications, as they have some very serious and life-altering side affects, and the medications don’t completely take away hallucinations or any other symptoms- it just makes living with schizophrenia more manageable. Ultimately, Barbara cut her family off in an attempt to live independently. 

It’s important to remember that people are more than their mental illness. I’ve talked briefly about my own struggles with depression and PTSD, and my husband’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder. However, left uncontrolled, mental illness can have an enormous and dark impact on your life. As we go through the police reports, remember that Barbara is more than her diagnosis. 

Police Reports

On January 4th, 2018, Barbara called the Cibola County Sheriff’s Office to report her car missing. It was a 1998 Chevy Traverse, and she stated that her children had stolen her car. When the sheriffs called back to take a report, Barbara did not answer the phone. 

On January 6th, 2018, Barbara called once again to report her car stolen, adding that her children stole it when she was in the hospital. When officers came out to take the report, Barbara was gone, but her door was open. When officers stepped inside, they noticed her black bunny was out of its cage. They spent 15 minutes chasing the bunny, eventually caught it, and put it in its cage. They left a note for Barbara but still didn’t make contact with her. 

Later that same day, Barbara called again to report that one of her daughters was threatening to put her in the hospital. She asked the sheriffs to come out to file a report, but then cancelled because it was too late (it was after 11 pm).

In February 2018, the case for conservatorship was dismissed. 

Things are quiet until March, when someone called to check on Barbara after not having made contact with her for awhile. That same day, officers from Cibola County Sheriff’s Office went out to Bluegill Drive and confirmed that Barbara was fine. 

On May 28th, officers responded to a call stating that Barbara heard people drilling on her roof, but it appears that officers didn’t see anything unusual. Another unusual call was made on June 6th, stating that someone was knocking on the window, but Barbara told officers to not come out unless she called back. 

On July 16th, a neighbor, Jackie, called police as she was concerned about Barbara. Evidently, Barbara was out walking around Jackie’s house and was talking to someone who was not there. When officers made contact with Barbara’s son, he said that his mother hadn’t eaten in two days and that the water and heat in her house might be turned off. He also was concerned that Barbara might not have a stove or a refrigerator in her house. About 45 minutes later, an officer met Barbara out at her neighbor’s house. He gave her some food but determined she didn’t need to go into a mental health facility as she answered all of his questions. Barbara told him she was going to call the CIA on him. Three hours later, Jackie called again, stating that Barbara was once again talking to herself and sleeping underneath a tree. Jackie stated that she would call New Mexico adult services in the morning, as she was concerned about Barbara. 

Two days later, on July 18th, Barbara again called police to complain that while she was gone in Mexico for a vacation, Jackie’s son, Michael, had taken care of her rabbit but was not giving the rabbit (named Angel) back. When police talked to Michael, he said he had never taken care of the rabbit to begin with. 

There were several more incidents over the next few months:

July 25th- Jackie called police on regarding a disturbance. She stated that Barbara was outside her house yelling profanities. 

August 4th- Barbara called and requested number for federal government. She was given number for attorney general’s office.

August 6th- Barbara called and accused Gallup police of taking her rabbit; McKinley County called Cibola county to report the calls. 

Agust 8th- Barbara called police regarding Jackie selling her rabbits.

October 16th- Jackie called police because Barbara was walking around with her rabbit and was refusing to leave someone’s porch.

October 22nd- Barbara reported money missing from bank account and that her purse has been stolen.

Reported Missing

On November 14th, at 10:46 am, Jackie called police again, this time for a welfare check. She had not seen Barbara for two days, and Barbara’s gate was closed. She was also concerned that Barbara might not have any heat in her house. By 2:57 that afternoon, 4 units were at Ms. Gould’s residence. Although they could not find Barbara, they did find two pets at her house, and took them into “custody.” Police began canvassing the neighborhood to find information regarding Barbara. Jackie told police that she had heard that Barbara had been dropped off at the Post Office Flats by Elma, a friend of Barbara’s. Jackie said that Barbara had attacked Elma, so Elma left her at the Flats and called police to pick Barbara from the Flats. Jackie had heard all of this from a man named David. 

Upon hearing this, Deputies Porter and Romero immediately began canvassing the neighborhood, but were unable to make contact with anyone and decided to check Prop Canyon for Barbara, as well as the nearby picnic area and the Bluewater Creek camping area. They did not find Barbara. That night, police issued a Silver Alert for her. 

On November 17th, Deputies Reyes Veloz and Tipton made contact with Elma, who asked if Barbara had ever made it home. Elma agreed to lead them to the location where she had last seen Barbara, which is on Forest Road 178. Elma told the deputies that Barbara had attacked her and that Elma had kicked her out of the car, but that she had made contact with a friend of Barbara’s and asked her to pick Barbara up. 

When off-duty investigator Anthony Kemp heard what Elma told police, he started driving towards the scene. On a whim, Investigator Kemp stopped a car passing through the canyon and asked the driver if he had heard of Barbara’s disappearance. The driver, Bruce Gardener, Jackie’s son, said that he had heard Barbara had been left in the canyon by a woman named Elma Lopez after Barbara had attacked Elma while they drove back from getting some food in town. Bruce told officers that he heard the two were drinking at the Post Office Flats when Barbara attacked Elma, and Elma kicked Barbara out of the car. Bruce told the investigator that Elma had called police to report the incident, but no record of the call was found. 

When Investigator Kemp arrived at the scene, Elma was with Deputy Reyes Veloz. Elma had told Veloz a different story: she said she had taken Barbara to the Thoreau Family Dollar, where Barbara had attempted to use her EBT card but was unable to. They stopped at the Post Office Flats, but there were people camping there, so they headed home. Per Elma, on their way back home, Barbara attacked Elma, pulling her hair and throwing her glasses out the window. Elma said that she threw Barbara out of the car, around 4:30 – 5 pm. Elma told officers at first that she had gone home, but later told them she went to a camping area before going back for Barbara to no avail. 

In a different conversation, Elma told Investigator Kemp that she had gone back to look for Barbara around 6 pm that same day, but still could not find her. She said that Barbara alone had been drinking as Elma was driving, pulling a fifth of vodka out of her purse and drinking about a quarter of it. 

When talking with Barbara’s daughter Gina, Investigator Kemp heard that this was not the first time Barbara had attacked someone unprovoked. Several days before going missing, Barbara had been drinking, and then walked up behind Gina and pulled her hair, hard enough to pull her out of the chair backwards. 

Elma gave police consent to search her home and vehicle. When Investigator Kemp was searching the vehicle, he found dirt and debris, but no blood and no evidence of cleaning agents used. He also searched Elma’s home and found nothing of note.

On November 21st, Investigator Kemp and Lt. Monte interviewed David, who had told Jackie about the incident between Barbara and Elma. David told police that per Elma, Elma and Barbara had been driving past Sawmill Road when Barbara grabbed Elma’s hair and threw her glasses out the window. Elma then pushed Barbara out of the car, then circled back to find her but Barbara was gone by that time. Elma later gave David a bottle of Crystal Palace vodka. The bottle was two-thirds full. During a later interview, on November 28th, David told detectives that Elma had actually pushed Barbara out of the car near the boulders. That morning he had dumped Elma’s trash for her at the local dump, and he told detectives that he had seen Jackie there and Jackie told him she had last seen Barbara on November 10th. But, that same day, Jackie told police she had last seen Barbara either November 3rd or 7th, but wasn’t sure about the date. At a different time, on November 15th, Jackie told police that she had last seen Barbara on November 11th. 

Others Missing from Cibola County

Strangely, Barbara’s disappearance isn’t the only one in the Grants area. There are just over 27,000 residents, but 5 people missing from Cibola County alone. 

  • Elaine Jaramillo-Vigil, missing from San Rafael since June 11th, 2020
  • Richard Williams, missing from Ramah since March 27th, 2018
  • Jay Jackson, missing from Milan since November 10th, 2002
  • Eusebio Montoya, missing from Grants since January 18th, 2008
  • And of course, Barbara, missing from Thoreau since November of 2018

Serial Killer in the Cibola Area?

In March of 2021, while everyone was waiting for vaccines and hoping to visit with their loved ones again soon, Sean Michael Lannon was fleeing from New Mexico to New Jersey, then from New Jersey to Missouri, where he was finally captured. 

Lannon was wanted for a homicide he committed in New Jersey, as well as four homicides in New Mexico. The victims included 66-year-old Michael Dabkowski (New Jersey), 21-year-old Matthew Miller, 40-year-old Jesten Mata, 60-year-old Randal Apostalon, and his ex-wife, 39-year-old Jennifer Lannon. While in police custody, Lannon confessed to murdering at least 12 other people. Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Alec Gutierrez said, who is prosecuting the New Jersey murder, said,  “It’s my understanding that the FBI is assisting New Mexico in their investigation.” However, Lannon is not being considered a suspect in the 11 murders he confessed to; it is unclear if the victims even exist. 

Lannon is awaiting trial in New Jersey and has been charged for the murder of Randal Apostalon. Apostalon, Miller, Mata, and Jennifer Lannon had all been reported missing in February. Lannon told police different reasons for murdering each victim; he said that Apolstalon’s murder occurred when Lannon enlisted Apostalon’s help for moving storage bins. Lannon then attacked and killed Apolstalon. He then left all 4 victims inside Apolstalon’s truck, parked at the Albuquerque International Airport, before taking a flight to New Jersey, where he attempted to break into two houses, then killed Dabkowski. He claimed he had planned to kill a 6th person in New Mexico. 

However, detectives noted that Lannon was extremely deceptive and he attempted to direct the investigation towards another man when Jennifer and her two friends went missing. He also told multiple people about the murders of the three, and was described as being almost entirely covered in bleach after the murders occurred. If Lannon killed others, it seems odd that he readily confessed some murders to friends but not others. It’s also telling that detectives don’t seem to be taking his claims seriously as far as we can tell. 

What Happened to Barbara?

November is cold, even in New Mexico. It is not uncommon for people to succumb to the freezing temperatures, or to succumb to heat exhaustion when there is a lack of drinking water. There’s also Elma’s varying reports to police and the bottle of Vodka she gave David, despite telling police Barbara had it with her when she got out of the car. There’s also a possibility that Barbara met with foul play- another person she knew, or maybe a stranger. 

What do you think happened to Barbara? 

If you would like to support my upcoming work, please consider donating to my GoFundMe. I am raising money to obtain copies of three New Mexico Doe files. The total cost is about $370. 

Sources:

Barbara: 

Police Reports

Missing Person’s Report

Silver Alert

NAMUS

Sean Lannon:

Man Linked to Three Deaths

Suspect Charged in 5th Death

CNN

Philly Voice

Meaww

Man Planned to Kill Sixth

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published.