Odessan still missing after two years

Every month, another social security check is deposited into the account of 79-year-old Richard Neria, which has gone untouched for almost two years since Neria first went missing in April 2016.

Since that time, the Odessa Police Department has had a case open for Neria in hopes of finding him, but Neria’s nephew, Raul Franco, said they haven’t been looking very hard.

“They’re not doing anything anymore, it’s a cold case,” Franco said. “They haven’t tried to contact me and they haven’t followed through with anything I’ve given them.”

Franco said the police failed to follow up on information he had given them, such as where Neria gets his prescription medication from for his high blood pressure, and said OPD didn’t bother telling him who was working on his case after the former investigator transferred to Midland.

“Why didn’t he contact me and let me know who I could get in touch with?” Franco said about the former investigator.

OPD had asked him for contact information for Neria’s brothers in order to get DNA samples, but Franco said nobody from OPD had ever contacted one of them.

“The investigator never calls me or my relatives back,” Franco said. “It’s just been on and on like that.”

OPD Spokesman Steve LeSueur said that investigators had at one point attempted to reach out to the family, and that while the detective on the case may have been transferred, the investigation still kept going.

“A lot of times cases get closed, but investigations are technically always ongoing,” LeSueur said. “It’s never over. A lot of times it will be closed temporarily until new details emerge.”

At this time, LeSueur said detectives have exhausted all of their resources in the investigation.

Neria was first reported missing to OPD in May 2016, but hadn’t been seen since April 25 that year at the Salvation Army Shelter, 810 E. 11th St.

LeSueur said when a person is first reported missing, detectives will try to investigate themselves, talking to friends and family members, and if not soon found, the department will reach out to the public for assistance in finding the missing person, or they will reach out to other law enforcement agencies for help.

“The vast majority of the time they’re found pretty quickly,” LeSueur said.

After all this time, Franco said what he most wants is closure.

“I just feel like his spirit is telling me he’s gone, he’s not around,” Franco said. “But his memory is still with us.”

Franco said he was helping his uncle a lot before he went missing. At 77, he had been suffering from dementia, and had just recently been diagnosed with skin cancer on his nose, which required his nose to be removed. Neria would help him about by buying him groceries or lending him money, but Franco said he just wanted an excuse to go visit him.

“I remember from my childhood, he was one of the guys I used to play baseball with,” Franco said. “I’m 60 now, and I just want to know what happened to him.”