Janette Pantoja’s sister has questioned why the search for Kiely Rodni has received much more attention and law enforcement manpower than her sister’s
A California woman and her ex-boyfriend disappeared around the same time and from the same area as Kiely Rodni – after going to a car show that the missing teenager had also attended just days before she vanished.
Janette “JJ” Pantoja, 29, and Juan Almanza Zavala, 36, had gone to the Hot August Nights car show in Reno, Nevada, together on the night of 6 August, according to authorities.
The pair, who had dated for eight years and remained good friends after their split, told their family members they were heading home to Yuba City, California, after the event.
When they failed to return home, Ms Pantoja’s family reported her missing to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department and Mr Zavala’s family reported him missing to the Yuba City Police Department on 7 August.
Authorities said that they were last seen driving Mr Zavala’s blue 2002 Ford Explorer with licence plate 4SNS072.
Both of their cellphones last pinged in Penn Valley, Nevada County, but a search of the area – including residences – has failed to turn up any clues as to heir whereabouts.
Ms Pantoja’s sister Alejandra Pantoja told Fox News Digital that her sister texted her current boyfriend at around 11pm on 6 August to say that she would be home in around 30 minutes.
When she failed to return home, the boyfriend received an alert on his phone that she had stopped sharing her cellphone location data, she said.
“She just never communicated anything other than that. She’s not like that,” she said.
The pair’s disappearance came almost exactly 24 hours after Kiely Rodni vanished without a trace just 35 miles away over the border of Nevada in Truckee, California.
Kiely, 16, was last seen at around 12.30am on 6 August at the Prosser Family Campground after she had gone to a party of around 200 to 300 teenagers and young adults.
A missing persons case was opened for the teenager on 6 August. She has also not been found.
Like Ms Pantoja and Mr Zavala’s vehicle, Kiely’s vehicle – a silver 2013 Honda CRV – is also still missing.
In another bizarre link, Kiely’s mother Lindsey Rodni-Nieman previously told The Independent that her daughter was planning to go to the car show with her the night that she vanished.
The mother and daughter had spoken about the plans on the morning of 5 August but, during the day, Kiely then texted Ms Rodni-Nieman saying that she had decided to go to the campground party instead.
“Later that day, Kiely then texted saying she was going to go to a party instead of going to the car show. She’d been to the car show already and there was this party in Prosser,” said her mother.
“I said ‘yeah that’s fine, of course you can go to the party’.”
Ms Rodni-Nieman said that her daughter had already gone to the car show in Reno earlier that week.
The Independent has reached out to Nevada County Sheriff’s Office – which is working on both investigations – to ask whether it is exploring any possible connection between the two cases.
Despite the similarities – and with the investigations now both in their second weeks – Alejandra questioned why Kiely’s case has received much more attention and law enforcement manpower than her sister’s.
“How is it that they’re doing a big deal for her but not making a big deal for our family member? It’s not OK,” she said to Fox.
She said that Yuba City investigators told her that they would carry out an aerial search but have so far failed to do so.
“They’ve been telling us they were going to send an aerial search and they haven’t done that,” she said.
“I just feel like if something happened to them, or if he did something to her, they’re just giving [potential suspects] time to run.”
By contrast, both air and dive teams were drafted in to help in the search for Kiely, with more than 300 law enforcement officials joining the search at its peak.
On Monday, investigators announced they were starting to scale back the search for the teen and move to a “more limited” phase.
Anyone with information about Pantoja and Alamanza Zavala’s whereabouts is asked to call Yuba City police at 530-822-4661.
Anyone with information about Kiely’s disappearance is asked to submit tips online at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the tip line at (530) 581-6320 option 7