Paula Flores’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Claudia, went missing in 1999 on her way home from the factory where she worked. Besides working in a factory, Claudia also helped with catechism lessons in the Catholic school in her neighborhood. She was learning how to play the guitar and she loved to write poetry. Claudia worked the same shift as her father at the factory, but for legal reasons the factory owners changed her shift. After two months of her shift being changed, Claudia disappeared.
When her daughter didn’t return home, Paula knew something bad had happened because her daughter never went anywhere after work without permission. Claudia was missing for two weeks before the authorities found her in a place called “The White Hill” in Juarez. Paula was not informed of this by the police; instead, a reporter told Paula that a woman’s murdered and raped body had been found and that the body was likely Claudia’s.
Paula’s son went to identify the body but was unable to confirm that it was Claudia because the coroner had already begun an autopsy. In September 1999, a DNA test was performed, and the test results indicated that the body was not Claudia. This gave Paula hope that her daughter was still alive. Suspicious events then took place, and Paula’s family asked if the woman’s body could be exhumed and another DNA test performed. The authorities exhumed a body, but it was the wrong body from the wrong grave site. Eventually the authorities did exhume the correct body and confirmed that it was Claudia. To this day, however, Paula constantly wonders if that body was, in fact, her daughter’s or if the authorities had lied to her.
A man has been in jail for three years for Claudia’s murder, but he claims that there were another two people involved. This man said the other two people paid him $500 to take them to where Claudia worked. He even gave the authorities the names, addresses, and pictures of the people who killed Claudia, but the police have not investigated these leads. Because of this, Paula believes that the authorities and even the governor are complicit in all the murders and disappearances. The authorities, however, are not punished for their involvement, but are instead promoted. Paula says that “the only thing that seems to be important in Juarez to the authorities is that we quit messing up their city with our crosses. They want to kind of sideswipe the issue, all the news and all their concerns are on drug trafficking and all the drug issues that are happening, and they [do not want] to take away the limelight [by investigating] missing women. And so we are just being pushed aside.”
Throughout all this tragedy, however, Paula says, “I ask God to help me to forgive. I want to have the same strength that Gwenda  has. I want to have her peace. And we are united, no matter what the distance is, we are united.”
- Paula Flores’s presentation at the Missing Women Conference was translated into English by a volunteer at the conference, then transcribed and retold in the third person by Chelsea Millman. ↵
- Gwenda Yuzacappi, the mother of Amber Redman. Her story—“Wicanhpi Duta Win”/Red Star Woman—is found on page 40 of the first edition of Torn from Our Midst. ↵