Ongoing search: Family asks for help after son’s disappearance

BROWNSVILLE — Ramiro Avila Jr.’s parents are having many sleepless nights. They spend their days, with other family members, searching anywhere they can for their missing son.

Ramiro — also known as “Kimberly” — Avila went missing May 12. A family member dropped off Avila in the downtown Brownsville area about 2:30 a.m., and he has not been heard from since.

Avila’s family, with the help of the South Texas Equality Project, held a press conference Thursday in Brownsville to ask for the public’s help in finding Avila. They want to know where he is, who may have him and if he’s all right.

Avila, 32, was last seen wearing a black wig, a black short-sleeve dressy blouse, a black skirt and high heel shoes. He is a member of the LGBTQ community, according to a press release from STEP.

“We want to know if he is OK. If he is out there, whoever has him out there, think about us. My mom, my dad, they don’t sleep. Their health is going down because they don’t sleep, they don’t rest. (Our parents) are out there looking, we are out there looking every day,” said Ivon Rodarte, Avila’s sister.

Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez said Avila’s disappearance is a mystery to authorities, and police continue to work on the case by checking leads the department has received.

“We have a duty to Ramiro and his family. When I met the mom and dad, I saw a very sad mom and dad. They are distraught because they are thinking the worst,” Rodriguez said. “We tell them we are here for you, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid to cooperate with us.”

The chief said he fears that someone out there may have information about Avila’s disappearance but is afraid to come forward because of Senate Bill 4 for fear of being deported.

There is no indication that the younger Avila has crossed any of the international bridges in Brownsville, authorities said.

Rodarte is positive that her brother would have contacted his family to let it know he is OK. He wouldn’t want his parents to suffer, not knowing his condition.

“If he was not going to make it home or if he was going to be running late, he would always (contact us). If he didn’t have a phone, he would borrow a phone. That’s the way that he was. He knew that (their mother) would always wait for him. He knew how much pain it would be (with) him leaving,” Rodarte said.

Rodarte said there were no problems at home and that he was very loved by his family. He had his family’s support.

Although the family has tacked up flyers around the downtown area of Brownsville seeking information on Avila’s whereabouts, someone keeps taking them down, trying to hamper the search, Rodarte said. Avila’s flyers either have been removed or defaced, she said. The family has no idea who is removing the flyers and why.

“Maybe it is somebody who doesn’t like gay people or maybe (it) is somebody doing it just to do it, but I think about it, and who is going to take the time every day to go to every street and vandalize my brother’s signs … there are other signs up there besides my brother’s, and they are intact. Why is it only my brother’s?” Rodarte said.

The family fears the person taking down Avila’s flyers may know something about Avila’s disappearance and doesn’t want him to be found.