FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Authorities confirmed Tuesday that the body of missing California woman Jolissa Fuentes has been found.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, officials with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and Selma Police Department announced that the body of the 22-year-old had been recovered in a rural area of Fresno County north of Pine Flat Lake.
Officials said the discovery came after Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz found evidence that Fuentes’ car had gone off the roadway in the area of Trimmer Springs and Maxon Road near Pine Flat Lake.
“He personally found the scene of the accident. He went up to the mountains yesterday on his own. He researched areas that had already been searched, and on his own, he actually found the scene of the accident,” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said of Alcaraz.
Alcaraz alerted the sheriff’s office — and search-and-rescue teams rappelled more than 400 feet down a cliff to recover Fuentes’ body Monday night.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but officials said they believe Jolissa Fuentes was most likely tired after being up throughout the night.
The rural area of Pine Flat Lake had previously been searched by law enforcement, but Alcaraz said it was difficult for crews to comb through the dense brush and trees along the cliffside where Fuentes was found.
“Search-and-rescue was down 200 feet, and we couldn’t even see them anymore, even with their flashlights,” recalled Alcaraz.
Members of Fuentes’ family, including her parents Norma Nunez and Joey Fuentes, stood alongside law enforcement during the announcement that Jolissa’s body had been found.
“When this first happened with my daughter, I talked to Chief Alcaraz, I told him man-to-man, ‘I’m talking to you. Do you have a daughter? Do you have children?'” said Joey Fuentes while fighting through tears. “He told me, ‘Yes, I do, Joey.’ I go, ‘I want you to go after my daughter like she’s your daughter, chief.’ You know what he told me? ‘I promise you, Joey, I promise you. I will find your daughter.’”
Joey Fuentes also took a moment during the press conference to thank those across the country who had joined in the search for his daughter.
“I want to thank the community, not just the community, this whole nation. The cries and the pain of my wife and my sisters and my family were heard around this whole country,” he said.
Investigators had been searching for Jolissa Fuentes for two months since she was reported missing on Aug. 8. She was last seen at 4 a.m. on Aug. 7 as she was driving away from an ampm store at an Arco gas station near Nebraska and Highland avenues in Selma.
Detectives with the Selma Police Department had carried out a search warrant for cellphone records the day Jolissa Fuentes was reported missing. Over the past two months, officers had been going over the data found during the search warrant, but there was very little phone activity after Aug. 8.
Officers with the California Highway Patrol will be working to recover Fuentes’ car from the cliffside.