Cold Cases

Years Later, San Diego Man’s 2015 Disappearance Still a Mystery

Where is he? Elijah Bear Diaz, a then 20-year-old east San Diego resident, vanished on Aug. 29, 2015

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ECPD/Diaz Family

It’s been more than four years since the mysterious disappearance of a San Diego man. Now, his family has added an additional $40,000 to a reward being offered for information that could finally help solve the case gone cold.

Elijah "Bear" Diaz vanished without a trace. He was last seen on Aug. 29, 2015, at around 10 p.m. That night, Diaz’s mother, Lelanie Thompson, dropped him off at his home on Joey Avenue in El Cajon.

That was the last time she or anyone else would see him. He was 20 years old at the time.

The next day, at around 4 p.m., Diaz’s mother stopped by his home to bring him dinner. He was nowhere to be found. Immediately, she reported him missing.

As the investigation unfolded, detectives with the El Cajon Police Department discovered that Diaz’s 50-inch television was missing from his bedroom, along with his bedsheets and the contents of a safe he kept in his room. 

Detectives also found that Diaz's phone was turned off on Aug. 30, 2015 -- just one day after he was last seen -- and was never turned back on.

The young man also stopped using social media immediately after he vanished. There has also been no activity on Diaz’s bank account.

Diaz is Native American and a member of the Barona Indian Tribe in San Diego County. He is issued checks by the tribe, and police say that since he disappeared, Diaz has not picked up or deposited a single one of those checks.

Diaz is diabetic and, at the time he vanished, was using crutches to move around due to an injury to his left foot. A backpack containing his diabetes medicine was also gone from his room.


To this day -- four years, four months and three weeks since he was last seen -- police do not know if Diaz is voluntarily missing or if he was the victim of foul play.

Diaz's family said Wednesday they had added $40,000 to an existing $10,000 reward for information leading to their loved one's whereabouts.

They’re hoping the now $50,000 reward will lead them to someone, somewhere with valuable information on Diaz.

Over the years, NBC 7 has spoken with Diaz's family, including his grandfather, Charles "Beaver" Curo, who said the family believes Diaz was taken and harmed. Curo once said all the family wants is closure; they do not think Diaz is alive.

“I’m hopeful that we can find his remains,” Curo told NBC 7 back in April 2017. “I’m sure my daughter’s holding out hope that she can find him someday.”

Despite no answers and the passing of time, Diaz's family has continued to search for him.

In 2016, a billboard about his case was displayed in Lakeside, on southbound State Route 67 at Mapleview Street; a banner reading "Bring Bear Home" was also on display outside Diaz's home.

At one point, Diaz’s family, friends and even volunteers went door-to-door around El Cajon trying to remind the public that he was still missing. The man's family also hired a private investigator who said the case was highly suspicious. 

Today, a website, Bring Bear Home, continues to try to spread the word and, as the website states, "Pray that the truth is revealed.”

In April 2017, Diaz's case received national attention when it was profiled on the TV series, "Disappeared." The show recreated the events in the case using actors.

Some family members of Elijah "Bear" Diaz are hopeful the show will lead them to him. His grandfather, however, told NBC 7's Steven Luke that he's accepted that Bear likely won't be found alive.

Diaz has brown hair and brown eyes, and despite his big nickname, his family describes him as 5-foot-10 and 110 pounds.

"He wasn't much of a bear," Curo once told NBC 7, smiling as he remembered his grandson.

Anyone with information on Diaz should contact San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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