Parents of Missing Torrington Woman Request Help Finding Their Daughter

Azia Saldana was last seen in Torrington in late August

Azia Diane Saldana, 33, was last seen in Torrington around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 26, after telling her parents she was going to the Western Travel Terminal to play video gambling machines. (Courtesy photo from the Torrington Police Department)

By Jennifer Kocher

Special to the Wyoming Truth

Azia Diane Saldana left her parents’ home in Torrington in the late afternoon on Aug. 26 and never returned.

A 33-year-old mother of four, Azia told her parents, Lisa and Amado Saldana, that she was walking to the Western Travel Terminal truck stop to play video poker machines for a couple hours. Azia texted her mother around 8:15 p.m. to say she’d be home shortly.

When she didn’t show up, the Saldanas called and texted Azia’s cell phone to check on her, but they got no response. Her phone just rang and rang, Lisa told the Wyoming Truth. Azia didn’t come home that night nor could they reach her for the next five days.

Finally, on the morning of Aug. 31, Amado received a text from Azia stating that someone had taken her phone, but she was fine and promised to be home that night.

Azia never arrived. The Saldanas again tried without success to reach Azia by phone and text, until finally, they received a message that said her phone was out of service, indicating to them that her pre-paid phone had run out of minutes, Lisa said.

The Saldanas have not seen or heard from their daughter in nearly two months. Lisa acknowledged that Azia struggles with drug addiction and has been incarcerated for crimes related to her drug use in the past. But she said Azia does not have any current pending charges in Wyoming.

Azia also is prone to one- to two-week disappearances, but she has always contacted someone, no matter what, Lisa said. Typically, she would call her parents or Dylan Prahl, her long-term partner and father of her children, to let them know her location and that she was safe. This time, no one has heard from Azia—not even Prahl, who told the Saldanas he has no idea where Azia is, but assured them that she is fine, Lisa said.

“I know in my mind and heart that something is wrong,” Lisa said. “I’m really scared that she hasn’t shown up at this point.”

The Wyoming Truth contacted Prahl via social media, but did not receive a response.

Evidence points to Colorado

Local police believe Azia Saldana, who struggles with addiction, may be in the Denver area based on their investigation thus far. (Courtesy photo from Lisa Saldana)

Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson said the department is actively investigating Azia’s whereabouts. So far, the investigation suggests Azia is likely in the Denver area. There’s nothing to indicate foul play in her disappearance, though it’s unclear whether she is in potential danger, he said.

“We have received enough information that at this time, we don’t believe she’s immediately in danger or the victim of a crime that has resulted in her disappearance,” Johnson said by phone Friday. “But we don’t have enough yet to say for sure that she’s safe.”

The Torrington Police are working with law enforcement agencies in Colorado on the investigation. Johnson declined to provide details or comment on whether they can confirm Azia was actually at the truck stop the night she disappeared or whether she has been spotted in Colorado, citing an active investigation. As of now, he said Torrington is still lead agency.

“We have just started networking with a couple of agencies down there and are happy to maintain it as the lead or hand off to them, depending on their preferences,” he said. “Our primary goal is doing whatever it takes to make sure that Azia is safe.”

As for how the public can help, Johnson encourages local people to come forward to share any information they may have of Azia’s whereabouts.

“It has been challenging to get a hold of some of the folks that we want to talk to, and not all of them have been forthcoming with information,” he said.

Feet on the ground

Lisa believes there is a good chance her daughter is in Colorado. A neighbor and friend of Azia’s told the Saldanas that he drove Azia to a hotel in the Denver area and dropped her off on or around Aug. 27. He said he came back to the hotel a couple hours later, but she was gone. He said he has no idea where Azia went and has not had any communication with her since, according to Lisa.  

Azia Saldana’s parents appeal to the public for any information relating to their daughter’s whereabouts. (Courtesy photo from Lisa Saldana)

Lisa and Amado have turned over all information to police. To date, they do not know who might have her phone and cannot confirm if there has been any financial activity on the cash app Azia uses in lieu of a bank account.

Stacy Koester, a private investigator with the nonprofit Road Warriors for the Missing, is working with the Saldanas to help bring their daughter home. Along with interviewing friends and family members, Koester and her team of volunteers are distributing flyers and posters locally and mapping out terrain for a potential search, should evidence point to Azia’s still being in the Torrington area.

Koester has reached out to law enforcement in Nebraska and Colorado—states Azia is known to visit—and has confirmed Azia is not in police custody. She also is teaming up with the Colorado-based nonprofit, Justice Takes Flight, that uses bloodhounds, human remains detection dogs and drones to conduct searches in the Denver area.

“Even though she has been known to disappear before, there are significant differences between prior instances and now,” Koester said. “And despite the known fact of Azia’s drug history, she is a human being, someone’s daughter and the mother of four little ones.”

Lisa reiterated this plea for help. She’s confident her daughter would have contacted someone by now to let them know she’s safe.

“Azia has struggled with addiction for years,” Lisa said, choking back tears. “But, she’s a wonderful, kind person and our only daughter and child. Our family desperately loves and misses her.”

Should Azia have chosen to leave on her own accord, Lisa said she could accept her decision. But she wants to hear that directly from her daughter.

Azia is described as being a Hispanic woman, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing about 147 pounds. At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing black leggings and a black and gray sweatshirt with “Word” written on it.

Anyone with information regarding Azia’s whereabouts is asked to call Detective Maestas with the Torrington Police Department at (307) 532-7001 or private investigator Stacy Koester at (307) 299-6710.

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