BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Tuesday marked the fifth birthday that Kimberly Avila’s family gathered to celebrate without her.
Kimberly Avila was reported missing in May 2017 in Brownsville, when she was 32 years old and her family still has many questions left unanswered.
The family held a Zoom meeting to raise awareness of her disappearance and to ask the community for support in “challenging the City of Brownsville to improve public safety by finding Kimberly Avila and anyone responsible for her disappearance.”
Oscar Lopez, CEO of Poderosos, said that at a two-year anniversary prayer vigil in 2019, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz took the stage and publicly said he had ”just interviewed a suspect who may have been responsible for her death.”
To this day, Lopez said the family has not received an apology or explanation of why Saenz said she was dead.
Speaking out publicly for the first time about the situation, Samantha Montemayor, navigation
coordinator at Oasis Latino Commission on AIDS and Board Member of GenTex said that she received information about Avila’s disappearance last year, and was harassed before even going to the police.
“Last year, before doing our May event… many might remember that I quit social media because I received threats after speaking with police about some information I received,” Montemayor said.
She mentioned during the Zoom meeting that the only person she had spoken to about the new information was to investigators, and she didn’t understand how she was receiving threats.
Jose Colon, a member of the city of Brownsville’s LGBTQ+ Task Force, joined the meeting and spoke about how Avila’s disappearance is one of the unfortunate events that moved the city to create the unit in 2019.
Colon explained that in a meeting with the Brownsville chief of police and Texas Representative Eddie Lucio III, some conversations did not match with what the Avila family was experiencing.
“I think this is one of those things where we have to put pressure [on local officials and district attorneys]… even in the last year in the city of Brownsville we have seen homophobic and transphobic…messaging,” Colon said.
During the meeting, Colon said that he received messages from the Brownsville Chief of Police, saying he is willing to meet with the Avila family to see what can be done differently.
The virtual celebration of Avila’s birthday ended with the Zoom participants singing “Happy Birthday,” at the grandmother’s request.
Avila was last seen when she was dropped off at Downton Brownsville at the 1200 block of E. Washington Street. She was wearing a black wig, a black short sleeve dressy blouse, a black skirt, and high-heeled shoes, according to the city of Brownsville.
The public is urged to report any information on Avila’s whereabouts, or if they know anything about the night that she went missing to Brownsville Crime Stoppers at (956) 546-8477. All calls are anonymous. A $10,000 cash reward is being offered for information leading to her whereabouts.
For more information about Kimberly Avila, click here.