San Mateo Co. cold case: Mother goes missing on way to work 21 years ago

A family on the Peninsula is asking for help finding their missing mother. Maria Guadalupe Serrano was last seen walking to a job site in Half Moon Bay back in 1998 and has not been heard from since then. She had two young sons at the time. 

“It’s been really painful not knowing anything about my sister,” said Sister Adela Ramos. “She’s been gone for 21 years.”

The last time anyone saw Serrano, then 29 years old, was 3:30 p.m. on October 17, 1998 as she left her apartment on Cypress Avenue in Half Moon Bay. She told a roommate she was walking to an office she regularly cleaned on Purissima Street less than a mile away but she never made it.

“Her two children were in Mexico,” said Detective Jose Velasquez of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. “She would consistently check in with her family and her children on a weekly basis.”

Detectives don’t believe Serrano would take her own life and said it was unlike her to suddenly disappear without a trace. Detectives said she left with only the clothes on her back.

“She could have been kidnapped, abducted,” said Det. Velasquez. “Maybe there’s a possibility she went back to Mexico.”

The famed Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival was happening at the time with thousands of visitors in town. Detectives and the family believe someone may have seen or spoken to Serrano that day.

“We are not giving up hope,” said Ramos. “It is the last thing you want to do is give up.”

It’s been extremely difficult for Serrano’s two sons. Edgar Perez is now 27 years old and misses his mother every day.

“It’s 21 years and the only thing I want right now is to find her,” said Perez.

All the family wants is closure.

“In my heart, in my mom's heart, she's still here with us,” said Ramos. “Not until we see that she has passed away. For us she's still alive and we want her to come home.”

Back in 1998, there were no camera phones, no social media and no home surveillance cameras. The Sheriff’s Office said they’ve exhausted all their leads and are looking for any clues, any tips to bring Serrano home to her family. She turns 50 years old in January.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office at (650) 363-4062 or the Anonymous Tip Line at 1-800-547-2700.