BOISE, Idaho — This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
A cold case victim’s family is currently raising money to give her a headstone 20 years after her death.
A wooden cross resides where Cheyenne Rene Vasquez was laid to rest in a cemetery in Payette. Her family is hoping she will have a headstone by July.
Vasquez was found dead at the age of 14 in April 2002 in a drainage ditch in Boise’s Blackeagle Business Park after being missing for almost four months. Her family could not afford a headstone at the time, said Vasquez’s aunt, Rachel Vasquez.
“I was just a kid when everything happened. It just put a lot of financial strain on us,” Rachel Vasquez said. “Then her mom passed away, her siblings have since moved away. Now that I’m an adult, when we go there — to the gravesite — it would be nice to have a stone for her, something to show.”
Cheyenne Vasquez’s family is from Payette, said Rachel Vasquez. Some of them moved to Boise in the 1990s, but Cheyenne Vasquez’s relatives are buried in Payette, so that is where she is buried.
Cheyenne Vasquez loved R&B music, said Rachel Vasquez, and was the only girl on her junior high football team — something she was proud of.
“She was so proud to wear that jersey. I just remember her just lighting up. And she was just your typical teenager. She liked hanging out with her friends. She was very social, very outgoing. And she was always smiling,” she said. “It’s been 20 years. She needs a headstone.”
Cheyenne Vasquez disappeared sometime in January 2002. Rachel Vasquez, who was 17 years old at the time, said she can vividly recall the night her niece went missing.
“On the night she went missing we were in the living room, and she wanted to go buy some candy and snacks. She asked if anyone wanted to go and no one wanted to go,” she said.
Cheyenne and Rachel both were staying with Cheyenne’s grandmother at the time, who lived two blocks from a gas station on Maple Grove and Overland roads. It was a Circle K back then, said Rachel Vasquez, and her niece would go there often to buy snacks.
“It was already dark. She left and she didn’t come home. We didn’t realize anything was wrong. We didn’t know,” Rachel Vasquez said. “We thought maybe she went with her mom in Nampa. When her sister went to school the next day, she said someone said they talked to Cheyenne. So, we didn’t think she was missing. We thought she had run away.”
After a while had passed, Cheyenne Vasquez was reported by family as a runaway.
“Over time we started thinking something was wrong. It was in April when the police came. They started asking questions and we just knew these weren’t normal runaway questions,” Rachel Vasquez said.
Rachel Vasquez said her niece was found injured, pants down, with no shirt. Her cause of death remains unknown, according to Ada County Coroner reports.
A sweatshirt was found near her body, and according to the Associated Press and Rachel Vasquez it belonged to a man she baby-sat for, Ramiro Granado.
Rachel Vasquez said that there was a payphone at the gas station that Cheyenne Vasquez walked to, where she called Granado. He admitted to picking her up, Rachel Vasquez said, and then claimed he dropped her back off at the gas station. She was never seen alive again.
Granado was later charged with lewd and lascivious conduct for his sexual relationship with the teenager, in which he admitted to the conduct, but denied ever being involved in her death.
“After she went missing (Granado) never came over again or called or tried to get ahold of any family,” Rachel Vasquez said.
Granado, who was sentenced for his lewd and lascivious conduct in 2003, is expected to be released on July 7 of this year. Rachel Vasquez said that the family is grateful for the Idaho parole board.
“Our family still prays for justice. Knowing he is getting out soon is very unsettling,” she said. “We’ve lost so much, we lost what her life would’ve been. Who is supposed to carry on her legacy? We have to keep fighting for justice.”
Donations can be sent to Memorial Monuments’ website, with the code 305991.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist: