Woman Missing Since Christmas Day

By Tony Shin
|  Friday, Dec 31, 2010  |  Updated 9:05 AM PDT
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Woman Missing Since Christmas Day

NBCSanDiego

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Woman Missing Since Christmas Day

Family suspects foul play in disappearance of Mount Hope woman.
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It was early Christmas morning, and Jennifer Zaragoza's young son told her he saw his grandma leave the family's home in the 700 block of Raven Street in Mount Hope.

"My son says she told him that she was going to go to the casino," said Zaragoza.

It wasn't unusual for 52-year-old Juana Martinez to grab her wallet and head to a local Indian casino to have some fun, Zaragoza told NBCSanDiego.

"She goes to Viejas, Barona or Sycuan," Zaragoza said.

When Martinez didn't come home on Sunday, family members became worried about the mother of eight children.

"I miss her, because it feels lonely without her," said daughter Jocelyn Huerta.  "We're worried about her."

Family members became suspicious when she didn't come home Monday, and then on Tuesday, a strange man came to the door and dropped off a wallet belonging to Martinez.

"He said he found it on a sidewalk in El Cajon, and then he left. I started thinking a lot of things, bad things," said Zaragoza, with tears running down her face.

Nothing is missing from the wallet except for money.  Zaragoza said her mother always takes the trolley to El Cajon and then gets on a bus to the casino.

The family contacted the casinos but came up empty. Then on Wednesday morning, things got even stranger when another man came to the family home.

"He said my mother wanted me to go pick her up," Zaragoza said. 

But the man became "nervous" and left when Zaragoza began calling police.

The San Diego Police Department's Missing Persons Unit is now investigating the disappearance.  Detectives are asking anyone with information about Martinez to call police.

Family members believe Martinez may be in some kind of trouble. 

"I hope she's OK," Zaragoza said.

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