Earlier this week we learned of yet another missing persons case in the Nevada County, California area. That search is now over.
Janette “JJ” Pantoja, 29, and her ex-boyfriend Juan Almanza Zavala, 36, never returned to their home in Yuba City after a day trip to Reno. The disappearance oddly occurred right around the area — and on the same day — as that of 16-year-old Kiely Rodni. Sadly the search for the former couple has already ended in tragedy.
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office informed local outlet KCRA on Wednesday evening that the bodies of the missing friends were found.
Butte County’s Gridley Police Department got a call from an eyewitness who had seen a crashed vehicle at the bottom of an embankment off Highway 20, near Poker Flats Road in Penn Valley. The witness had to guide the California Highway Patrol to the car as it was so difficult to see from the road — hence it taking over a week and a half to find. The CHP found two bodies outside the vehicle, and they were quickly identified as JJ and Juan. Authorities were not able to determine who was driving at the time of the apparent accident since they were thrown from or exited the vehicle before passing.
We’re so sad this was the outcome. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the former couple, who had dated for 8 years and then became friends for years afterward. In particular we’re thinking of Alejandra Pantoja, who worked hard to get her sister’s story the attention it deserved.
She had been understandably annoyed that local police seemed to be focusing all their resources on Kiely’s case. The high schooler of course went missing after attending a huge party, with well over 100 teens drinking in the woods near the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee. The two cases were linked by geography and time — and contrasted by apparent effort put into the search — but they were always thought to be unconnected.
In the end, they were even further apart. The crash site was nearly 80 miles away from where Kiely was last seen. That search continues, though as we reported it’s evolving now into a more investigative mode as physically combing the area has yielded no results.
If you have any information, you can call the hotline at (530) 581-6320 or go to FindKiely.com or the family’s GoFundMe.
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