Tragic ending in search for missing, “at-risk” 81-year-old

UPDATED: Saturday, Nov. 16, 11:35 a.m.

See Original Story below

MENIFEE — The desperate, week-long search for a missing, “at-risk” 81-year-old Canyon Hills man has come to a tragic end after the victim was found deceased Thursday, Nov. 14.

The victim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s related dementia was last seen alive Thursday morning, Nov. 7. around 8:30 a.m., when he told family members that he was going for a walk.


Family, friends, and law enforcement officials began searching for Manuel Soto Gonzales last week after his family reported him missing.

Although a neighbor’s Ring camera later showed Soto Gonzales leaving his home that morning and another nearby neighbor later reported seeing him walking in the neighborhood around 8:45 a.m. the evening of his disappearance, frantic family members were not able to locate their missing loved one.

Numerous tips continued to flood in over the next few days, as Soto Gonzales’ grand daughter, Cynthia Soto, spearheaded efforts to locate the missing man; creating and distributing fliers, creating a social media page to let others know about the disappearance and search, and contacting local media in an effort to find support in searching for the octogenarian.

On the seventh day of the search, family members tragically learned Soto Gonzales’ body had been located in Menifee, near Simpson and Lindenberger roads, not far from several areas where he had reportedly been sighted before his death.

After learning about their loved one’s passing, the grieving family updated the their social media pages that he had been found; writing, “Family and friends With sadness we inform you that we found our grandpa, he is with God meeting his brothers … Thank you for all your support and love!!!”

Original Story: Search continuing for missing, “at-risk” 81-year-old

MENIFEE — Officials and concerned family members are continuing to search for an 81-year-old, Canyon Hills man who was last seen leaving his home for a walk six days ago. CHP has issued a Silver Alert and Lake Elsinore sheriff’s deputies are now investigating the man’s disappearance as the search continues.

The missing man, Manuel Soto Gonzales, suffers from Alzheimer’s-related dementia and multiple medical conditions and may become disoriented, according to family members who have created and distributed fliers as well as a Facebook page seeking information about his whereabouts.


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According to Soto Gonzales’s grand daughter, Cynthia Soto, her grandfather was last seen Thursday morning, Nov. 7. around 8:30 a.m., when he told family members that he was going for a walk.

A neighbor’s Ring camera later showed Soto Gonzales leaving his home and a neighbor later reported seeing him walking in the neighborhood around 8:45 a.m.

“He’s always outside. He knows not to leave, but he’s confused,” Soto told Menifee 24/7. “He’s not aware of location and time. He won’t ask for help because he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.”

He is believed to be wearing a black baseball hat, black leather jacket, and black pants and shirt. He has been described as standing 5-foot-2, and weighing 130 pounds, with grey hair and dark-colored eyes.

Family members have created this flier in the hopes that someone will recognize their missing loved one, 81-year-old, Manuel Soto Gonzales.

On Sunday, Nov. 10, four days after the 81-year-old went missing, family members had their hopes raised when they received a tip that Soto Gonzales was spotted by a Menifee resident. According to the witness, the missing man was seen wandering on Ensemble Dr., in a residential neighborhood southwest of Haun and Holland roads.

When the person who spotted Soto Gonzales later read that the man was missing and recognized his photograph on social media, they immediately went back out and searched for him, while contacting the man’s family.

Family members raced to the area, but despite searching the neighborhood and surrounding streets, their hopes were dashed when they could not locate their missing loved one.

Numerous other sightings have also poured in from around Murrieta; with sightings reported near Rancho Springs Hospital, on Murrieta Hot Springs near Hancock, and near the Scott Rd. off-ramp. At least one tip came in that the man was also possibly spotted walking on Main St. in Lake Elsinore.

In the day’s since her grandfather’s disappearance, Soto says her family has not lost hope and has been relying on prayer and the support they have received from the community, telling Menifee 24/7, “We’re looking in parks, in ditches … we just have to have hope. We’re grateful for the many people in the community who have reached out to us.”

Sheriff’s officials are now investigating the man’s disappearance, and have released their own fliers seeking information.

Anyone with information about this investigation or who knows Soto Gonzales’ whereabouts is encouraged to contact the missing man’s family at (714) 561-6793 or on Facebook, or the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department at (951) 776-1099. Callers can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

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Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.


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