Growing mystery. Search for missing Merced mother of 8 leaves more questions than answers

It’s been about two weeks since a Merced mother of eight went missing near the California-Arizona border, and her husband said Monday the family is “consumed” by the mystery.

Ermelinda Alvarado last spoke with her husband, Jose Alvarado, over the phone on April 10, he said. He was in Texas on a trip. A few days later, according to Merced police, a car rented to her was found near Blythe, which is close to the border.

“This is consuming me every day. The kids (too),” he said on Monday. “I’m not working right now. I’m staying home indefinitely until we have some news, some answers.”

Inside the car was her purse, which held belongings like her ID, but her cellphone was not found, according to police. Capt. Bimley West said Merced police are working with investigators in the Blythe area.

He said Monday that police believe her cellphone may be off because officers were not able to find much information on it.

“Hopefully, we’re getting closer,” West said. “Someone knows exactly where she’s at or where she’s headed.”

California Highway Patrol officers in the area where the car was found said the red Hyundai Elantra was found closer to Indio than Blythe.

The Alvarados had five children together and adopted three more, her husband said. The children range from 6 to 23.

“We honestly don’t know what to think. We don’t have too much information,” Jose Alvarado said. “We imagine every scenario that’s out there. We just want her to come home.”

The family has begun raising money to offer a $10,000 reward for any information and look to hire a private investigator.

Ermelinda Alvarado is 5-foot-4, about 100 pounds and has shoulder-length dark hair. She was last seen wearing a black hoodie, black pants and running shoes.

Jose Alvarado said people who have information on her whereabouts can call him directly at 209-756-9431.

Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call Sgt. Rey Alvarez at 209-388-7705. Tips can remain confidential and you can remain anonymous.