Holly Alcott White was last seen on May 6, 2016, in Taos, New Mexico. Her body was never found, and no one knows if she is dead or alive.
One of the first things that Taos Police Department looked at when Holly White went missing was her daily routine. Each morning Holly would meet a close friend Cynthia Arvidson for a walk in the park, with Holly’s dog Rosie tagging along behind them.
Holly Alcott White, 49, went missing for over 5 years and has not been seen since.
Holly never missed these daily walks since the close friends started them eight years prior.
However, on the morning of May 6, 2016, Holly never showed up.
Cynthia waited, hoping to see her friend’s blue Ford Escape pull up anytime. She texted Holly, then called, now with the feeling that something was seriously wrong.
Luckily, she always kept a key to Holly’s house, just in case she ever needed to get in and check on Rosie while Holly was at work. Although, this was rare.
Cynthia arrived and noticed that Holly’s car was not in the driveway. When she opened the door, she was immediately greeted by an anxious Rosie, who had not been let out all morning.
Holly’s purse and cellphone were resting on the kitchen counter, but other than that there was nothing amiss. There were no signs of forced entry to the front door or any of the home’s windows.
There were no broken lamps, drops of blood, or anything else that would tell police that there had been any type of struggle.
Cynthia told NBC News,
"None of it made any sense. Holly always had her purse with her. And she would never leave her dog. That dog Rosie, she was like her child."
The Night Before
Detectives immediately looked at Holly White’s absence as a missing persons case, despite the usually 48 hour waiting period.
Holly was happily married. She was nearing her 50th birthday; she had close friends, she would never leave her dog Rosie, and her co-workers at the TCA (Taos Center for the Arts) described Holly as a cheerful person. These traits don’t fit into someone who would voluntarily walk away from her life, especially leaving any behind her purse, bank cards, and her cell phone.
The last person to hear from Holly was her husband, Jeff White. Jeff was living over two hours away in Albuquerque from the White’s home in Taos. He had recently taken a new job, and the couple was planning on Holly moving to Albuquerque. In fact, the couple had a closing date of their Taos house being sold on May 20, 2016, just four days after her disappearance.
It was routine for Jeff and Holly to talk on the phone before and phone records show that call ended at 9:20 pm on May 5, 2016. Jeff described his wife as her usual “cheerful” self with the only slight stress in her life was the upcoming move to Albuquerque, but that is common for anyone in moving.
“That was the last time I spoke to her,” Jeff told Dateline. “And then she was gone. It was a shock to everyone.”
Before calling her husband, Holly called Jill Gustafson, as she did every day, and talked for a few hours.
Gustafson knew things about Holly White that her own husband didn’t know. Jill was still Holly’s best friend and, despite Jill still living in Oregon, where Holly was raised, the two remained close since they first met in high school. A close bond lasting over 35 years, Holly told Jill everything.
Jill tells Dateline, "We were inseparable. We shared a lot of 'firsts' - like putting on makeup, talking about our first kiss we had with a boy. We told each other everything."
The Taos Police Department and friends of Holly’s were clueless.
What happened to Holly White?
Why is her purse and cellphone in the house, but her car is missing?
Over the Edge
Holly’s car was found abandoned in the parking lot at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. An attendant who works at the bridge claimed that her car was three when she arrived at 6:15 am that morning. Noticing nothing unusual about the car parked in the lot, the attendant didn’t alert the towing company until hours later.
Police could lift two fingerprints, one on the rearview mirror and the other on the passenger side door, but both prints were incomplete, and they found no DNA inside the vehicle. Holly’s car keys were also found resting in the cup holder.
The obvious and devastating truth that Taos Police officers recover cars parked at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge when relating to a missing person is suicide. Perhaps because of the serenity of the surrounding lake or the privacy of the bridge’s rural location, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge has unfortunately served as a prime spot for jumpers over recent years ranking as one of the highest bridge suicide rates per capita in the country.
Did Holly White jump to her death on the early morning of May 16, 2016?
Jeff White claims that his wife would never kill herself. “She was’’t that type of person.” Jeff says, “I know damn well she didn’t jump. She didn’t leave me. There would’ve been a note. She’s not a cold person. She wouldn’t leave her dog. I don’t know why she would just leave on her own, she just wouldn’t.”
There is one prime difference between Holly White’s potential suicide off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and all the jumpers that came before her.
The bodies of all the previous jumpers have been recovered.
Holly White’s body has never been recovered, although it should have drifted down river or easily spotted by law enforcement dive teams.
After a weeklong search for Holly in the twelve miles of the Grande Gorge river, divers found something interesting. Floating in the water was a single women’s black Sketchers shoe, that according to her walking companion Cynthia Arvidson, among other friends, belonged to Holly.
Why was only one shoe found in the river?
Did someone throw the shoe over the bridge to confuse investigators?
One interesting post from a user called ‘Nerissa’ who posted on the popular true crime forum, WebSleuths, states that the Grande Gorge Bridge is not of walking distance to Holly White’s home.
Nerissa, who claims to live in the area, says that the bridge is in a “fairly remote and rural” area, which means if Holly White walked away on her own, she would have had to have an accomplice with her to drive back into civilization, or at least a staged car nearby.
Finally, Nerissa brings up another good point about Holly’s car found at the bridge. She said that it is a possibility that someone living in proximity to the river may have abducted Holly.
But if this is the case, why would Holly White be at the bridge by herself?
Again, why would her dog Rosie not be with her?
A Second Look At The Husband
On the surface Jeff and Holly’s 20-year marriage looks blemish-free, and law enforcement believe too. Jeff claimed that he and his wife were in a fortunate marriage and both were looking forward to Holly’s move to Alburquerque.
Holly's husband, Jeff White, was the last person to speak to Holly. Jeff lived two hours away in Albuquerque when Holly vanished.
Jeff White took a polygraph test, which he passed, claiming that he didn’t mind taking the test, but wanted it to help push the investigation forward.
He has also been vocal about the lack of enthusiasm that Taos Police Department has shown in his wife’s disappearance, claiming they were moving at a “snail’s pace.”
One peculiar thing I noticed about the husband’s remarks, Jeff complained that law enforcement should have “pulled [his wife’s] bed sheets for DNA”.
Does this comment suggest that Holly may have been having an affair?
If so, was Jeff aware of his wife’s infidelities?
At this point... Desperation
Six months past and countless of flyers were printed when the family hired Elaine Graves, a private investigator who has since become a close friend with the White family.
Holly’s disappearance has left the family , the father especially, completely devastated and Graves says that their “hearts have been ripped out.”
Although Graves will “never stop looking for Holly”, turning over every stone, revisiting every second, continuing to ask the neighborhood to “think back” to the day of May 16, 2006, the search for the missing woman seems more and more bleak each passing year.
No new leads have since presented themselves and as for the private investigator, she will “take anything at this point.”
Jill Gustafson told Dateline that she and Holly were best friends since their time as teenagers. The two girls had been each other’s confidants and remained in close contact years later after Holly moved from Oregon with her husband to thier Taos home.
Despite being so close and so honest for the last three decades, Holly has kept secrets from Jill.
Although these secrets have never been made public, we know they were discovered during a search into Holly White’s computer.
There was something that neither Holly’s husband Jeff nor her best friend Jill knew about her. Jill claimed the uncovered secrets devastated her and wondered how her best friend would keep them from her.
What were the secrets on Holly White’s computer?
Why couldn’t she tell them to Jill?
Even if she was having an affair, she could confide in her childhood friend..
What happened to Holly White?