The family and friends of a missing Glendale kindergarten teacher searched the national forest near Williams on Thursday without success.
The group of 30 people from Phoenix searched Forest Service roads, culverts and hiking trails for 44-year-old Cathryn Gorospe, who was last seen bailing convicted felon Charlie Malzahn, 27, out of jail in Flagstaff on October 6.
Family members and friends headquartered themselves at the Williams police station on Thursday, mapping out every area where Gorospe’s Toyota Rav4 could possibly go.
Malzahn was arrested in Phoenix on Monday driving Gorospe’s blood-stained vehicle; however, police say he has not offered any information on her possible whereabouts and not been charged with a crime relating to Gorospe’s disappearance.
Malzahn attended Williams High School a decade ago and his stepfather, Herman Nixon, is the Williams police chief.
Gorospe’s stepmother, Deidre Gorospe, described the mood in Williams as “on edge” and said the situation grew bleaker every hour as her search party prepared to go out again.
“Every hour we don’t find Cathryn is another hour she is missing,” Deidre said. “We are running out of daylight and we have to find her.”
Cathryn’s family pushed on despite the growing disappointment. Her father, Ray Gorospe, remained optimistic, wearing an orange vest with the word “hope” written on the back.
“We are going to keep moving forward and use whatever resources we can,” Ray told his search team. “If a Rav4 can get through it then we are going to search it.”
Cathryn’s family drove down forest roads until they found a trail or culvert of interest. After searching the area, the family would tie an orange bow around a tree or road sign to signal other searchers that Cathryn was not there.
The family continued to search even as orange bows continued to add up.
“All you can do is look and hope we find her,” Cathryn’s sister-in-law, Freya Gorospe, said. “We keep looking because we want to bring her home.”
Deidre said that looking for her stepdaughter was better than doing nothing.
“We know where she isn’t,” Deidre said. “She isn’t at home and we know she was in Williams first, so we are going to look for her here. There is no point in waiting around.”
Malzahn’s travels through Arizona between his release from jail and his rearrest have made it difficult for police to pin down the missing teacher’s location. It is believed that Cathryn and Malzahn drove through Williams via Interstate 40, according to Flagstaff Police. Malzahn then drove the vehicle during his travels through Chino Valley, Prescott and Prescott Valley, according to police. Cathryn was not seen with him when he arrived in Tucson, Clifton and Phoenix.
Flagstaff Police have taken the lead in the investigation, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, but no law enforcement agency has created a search team to locate Cathryn.
The Williams Police Department, which is helping Cathryn’s family with logistics such as maps and radios, has been unable to send officers to help search for the missing woman.
“The search area being in and out of Williams has created some jurisdictional issues for us,” Williams Police Lt. Darrell Hixson said. “Supplying the family with resources was our best course of action because they are volunteers and don’t have to deal with jurisdictions like we do.”
The Gorospe family did not say how long they would be searching the Williams area, but Hixson said they could use the station as a headquarters for as long as they need it.