New photo emerges in San Mateo missing person case

Police in San Mateo released a new photo on Thursday in a decades-old missing persons case. Sherry Roach, who was 17 at the time, vanished from a group home in San Mateo back in 1976. The photo shows Roach with someone who investigators are calling a “person of interest.”

Jerry Roach has fond memories of his sister. They were particularly close coming from a turbulent childhood raised in Santa Rosa.

“When she would run away before, she would call me and let me know where she was at, what was going on,” said Jerry Roach. “This time she didn't.”

It’s a case investigators have poured over since 1976. A counselor in the group home Rocha was living at in San Mateo reported the 17-year-old missing after she never returned from a part-time job in San Francisco.

“The officers back in 1976 did a cursory interview with some people that either worked with her or that knew of her and there weren't any substantial leads at that particular time,” said Tom Paulin of the San Mateo Police Department. “She just fell off the map and disappeared.”

Now 44 years later, investigators said a new photo has emerged of Rocha with a mystery man. Rocha’s mother found the photo at the family’s home. 

“He might have some information about her, if he in fact had a relationship with her,” said Paulin. “Again we just don't know who he is.”

The photo was taken in 1975 according to what was written on the back. It was perhaps one of Rocha’s last photos. 

Investigators said Rocha often hitchhiked which was not uncommon in the 1970’s and they've cross-checked her name among victims of serial rapists and killers.

The group home “Pedregal House” where Rocha was living at when she disappeared is now a dental office in San Mateo.

“I just assumed that she got picked up by somebody bad and that was her demise,” said Jerry Roach.

Age progression shows what Rocha would look like at age 55. Sherry Roach is now 61 years old. Her mother is 80 years old and is holding out hope her daughter will come home.

“She always says when she does pass my mom that she wants everything split five ways to include Sherry if she does end up coming back,” said Jerry Roach.

Detectives describe the man in the new photo as being six feet tall. 

Anyone with information is asked to call San Mateo Police at (650) 522-7662 or can remain anonymous a (650) 522-7676.