No one had seen any sign of Krista Rae Bowman after she had traveled from California to Southern Colorado in March 2017, but one clue as to the missing woman's whereabouts may have been sitting in the parking lot of a Taos apartment complex for as long as a year.
On March 14, 2017, Bowman, who would now be 32, packed all of her belongings into her silver 2001 Toyota Avalon and drove away from her mother's residence in Morongo Valley, California, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. She told her family she was headed to visit her boyfriend, Christopher Starr Perfect, in Colorado.
In April 2017, after she had reached Fort Garland, she exchanged messages with her family via Facebook, telling them she had reunited with Perfect in Southern Colorado.
That was the last time anyone heard from her.
California law enforcement disseminated a missing persons notice in May. They later located Perfect in Wyoming after he had been picked up on a parole violation.
According to their investigation, no one in that part of Wyoming had ever heard of or seen Bowman.
Since her disappearance last year, Bowman's family has feared the worst, according to a June 2017 report from KESQ News Channel 3, a news outlet based in the Palm Springs, California area.
No clues had surfaced until last week, when an unidentified source sighted a suspicious vehicle, a silver Toyota Avalon, parked outside Cruz Alta Condominiums at the southeast corner of the intersection of Gusdorf and Cruz Alta roads.
They reported the car to Taos County Crime Stoppers, explaining they suspected the car may have been stolen. It had been parked there for quite a while, they said, possibly longer than six months.
Acting on the tip, Taos Police Detective Barry Holfelder ran the vehicle's license plate and discovered it was registered to Bowman.
Taos Police Department subsequently joined an intensive and ongoing investigation in cooperation with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to find out what happened to Bowman.
"We are actively looking for anyone who saw the car be dropped off at the Cruz Alta Condominiums or has any information regarding the car, Ms. Bowman or Mr. Perfect," Holfelder wrote in a press release.
Holfelder said he interviewed the manager of the apartment complex and learned that at least one resident stated the car was parked at the complex when they moved in on May 3, 2017, about a month after Bowman last spoke with her family.
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety may have been notified of the car earlier and may have also run the plates, Holfelder said. The exact date when that occurred, however, or whether any connection was drawn to Bowman's disappearance, Holfelder hadn't confirmed as of press time Wednesday (May 2).
With consent from Bowman's family, Holfelder searched Bowman's car this week. He stated that nothing suspicious was recovered, only some clothes and other personal belongings. Bowman's identification or purse could not be found in the Avalon.
"The vehicle had been left unlocked," Holfelder said in an interview on Wednesday, adding that several people may have been inside the vehicle since it was first left in Taos, which may complicate future forensic testing, he said.
Holfelder has impounded the car pending further investigation.
According to a missing persons notice posted by the California Department of Justice, Bowman is described as a 5-foot, 7-inch tall, 125-pound white woman with hazel-colored eyes and blonde hair. She has a tattoo of a star on her right foot.
Tips related to Bowman's disappearance can be submitted to Taos County Crime Stoppers at (575) 758-4258 or to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office at (909) 387-3695.