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Experienced search and rescue volunteers join hunt for missing Chula Vista mom

Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-28 20:30:13-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - More than seven weeks after a Chula Vista mom went missing and the momentum to find her has not faltered. Every week, searches are held in and around San Diego County in areas where Maya Millete enjoyed visiting with the hope of finding clues to her whereabouts.

The Chula Vista mom was last seen Jan. 7. Her husband said they got in a fight and he left, then when he came home, she was gone.

Related: Maya Millete: Chula Vista police, family plead for more help in finding missing mom

Sunday, multiple searches took place. In North County, volunteers first searched Elfin Forest then went to Lake Hodges. These searches were organized by Ashley Rawlins, who said she doesn’t know Maya, but felt compelled to help.

“We have no answers right now so we need something that can lead us to where she is, where she was and we can bring her home and get answers for the family and get justice,” said Rawlins.

Two of Maya’s brothers and other family members were also at the search, but many people who participated were strangers. One of them was Alejandro Orpigoza, who is part of a volunteer search and rescue group called the Armadillos, who help locate people around the U.S./Mexico border.

“I am here just to be part of the effort,” said Orpigoza.

Orpigoza said he knows how to look for clues in nature, including finding soft spots in dirt and piles of leaves and sticks. He brought that knowledge, along with walkie-talkies and a group of his team, to help look.

Another volunteer with experience was Claude Sims, who is a private investigator and said he’s helped with multiple community searches for missing people throughout the years.

“Knowledge is power, you know what you’re looking for, you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it makes it a little bit easier,” he said, speaking to the importance of having experienced people attend these searches.

Both agreed, though, that every volunteer is important for these search parties.

“If we can all come together and keep looking, then hopefully we will find answers and we will bring Maya home,” said Rawlins.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call CVPD at 619-691-5151 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.