18 years after Laverda Sorrell's disappearance, FBI, Navajo Nation, and family appeal to public for answers

Pictured: Missing Navajo woman Laverda Sorrell.(Photo: FBI)

Press Pool

A family member reported Laverda Sorrell missing on July 8, 2002

News Release

Albuquerque FBI Division - Public Affairs Office

The FBI and Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety are marking the 18th anniversary of the disappearance of a Native American woman by distributing a poster on her case in the Navajo language and reminding the public of a reward of up to $10,000.

Laverda Sorrell, of Navajo, New Mexico, was last seen by her husband, according to a statement he provided to authorities. He said he dropped her off at 11:30 p.m. on July 4, 2002, at the Window Rock School District #8 in Fort Defiance, Arizona, where she worked.

A family member reported her missing to the Navajo Police Department on July 8, 2002.

“Anyone who disappears often leaves behind loved ones who will never stop looking for them, and that’s the case with Laverda,” James Langenberg, special agent in charge of the Albuquerque FBI Division, said. “The FBI is committed to providing answers for her family and we will not stop looking for her, either.”

"We are very committed to resolving this case and we continue to seek the public's help for any information that would be helpful to us," said Jesse Delmar, executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

A statement provided by the family reads: “As her family, we are sending out this sincere plea to the public to help us as we have not given up on our search to find Laverda. No matter the outcome, we are determined to bring her home and find closure for our family. Laverda was everything to our family: a daughter, a mother, a sister, and an aunt who was such a compassionate, selfless, and caring person. She was the glue that kept and brought our family together because of her tender, gentle, and loving grace. If you have any information that might be helpful, we implore you to contact the FBI immediately.”

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Laverda Sorrell’s disappearance.

Anyone with information on Laverda Sorrell’s disappearance is asked to call the FBI at (505) 889-1300 or send information online at tips.fbi.gov

A photo of Laverda and links to posters in English and Navajo can be found at: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/kidnap/laverda-sorrell

A family statement is below:

Laverda Sorrell, our dearly loved sister, mother, aunt, and now grandmother has been missing for eighteen years, a very long time. We are thankful to the Navajo Police and the FBI for their persistence in their efforts to find justice for Laverda and her family in this intensive investigation.

This statement is essentially a plea to the public for assistance with the investigation into Laverda’s disappearance. The agencies involved in the investigation can only do so much with the resources available to them, but more can be accomplished with the public’s help. It is a fact that untold numbers of cases have been solved with the public’s assistance.  

Laverda went missing on July 4, 2002. It was reported that her husband saw her last when he dropped her off at her worksite, which is the Window Rock Unified School District Administration Building in Ft. Defiance, Arizona in the late evening at 11:30 P.M. We do not, for a single moment, believe that she walked away from her children who were at the heart of her being or decide not to contact family ever again. These are acts that would not have been possible given the strength of her character, the love in her heart, and commitment to family.  

At the time of Laverda’s disappearance her children were mere kids, now they are adults with college education and striving to live life as their mother would have intended. Laverda’s youngest son has children now; he was only ten years old when his mother disappeared. Laverda’s parents and one brother are no longer with us as well. A lot has transpired during her disappearance. One of the more heartbreaking things that we think about is what to tell her grandchildren when they ask for her; she has grandchildren now and more are sure to come. It is a shame that they will not get to realize the wonderful person their grandmother was, a beautiful Diné (Navajo) woman who had her whole life ahead of her, and an opportunity to share a lifetime of love with them.  

Like the investigating agencies our family is determined to not stop trying to find Laverda no matter how long that takes. We are pleading with everyone who might have any information to talk to the FBI and give them any lead no matter how insignificant it might seem. There is a lot of love in our family, and the hole created by Laverda’s disappearance is far too great to bear. In conclusion, we are reaching out to the public, including anybody out in the community, our relatives, friends, and family to help us in our search for Laverda. We want closure. We want justice. We want healing. We want to bring Laverda home.  

Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI - seal
(Image: fbi.gov)
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