The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday it is working with the family of Claudia Ruiz, a Silt woman missing for a week, to determine if a body found Friday is hers.
The family apparently believed it was.
“Family and friends, Claudia has been found,” her family posted on Facebook on Saturday afternoon. “We wish to have privacy in these painful moments. We appreciate all your love and efforts. Thank you for continuing to pray for the family. There are no words to thank you for all you’ve done for us.”
A statement from Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan said an autopsy would be conducted during the weekend to determine the cause of death.
On Friday, the body was spotted by a rancher riding an all-terrain vehicle in a rugged area south of Emma. Authorities were able to remove the body by 8 p.m. Friday, Ryan’s statement said.
Authorities said because of weather and the rough territory, investigation at the scene may take several days.
Ruiz, a mother of three, was last seen getting off a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus in El Jebel on May 17. According to Glenwood Springs police, Ruiz caught a ride from Silt to Glenwood, where her daughter later spotted her boarding the eastbound bus.
Ruiz has a history of mental illness and did not take her medication with her, leading her family to worry.
Friends, relatives and members of the missing woman’s church searched extensively on foot and by vehicles in the midvalley last week. They put numerous fliers up in public places in El Jebel and Basalt. As word of her disappearance spread, the search expanded to include parts of the Interstate 70 corridor. Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson reported seeing a poster at the top of Vail Pass on Friday afternoon.
Claudia Ruiz’s daughter Jennehii Ruiz said Friday afternoon in an interview with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that her mother had once been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but doctors had come to consider the condition different from schizophrenia. Claudia Ruiz had gone missing before, but this is the first time she has left the Silt area or been gone overnight.
Claudia and Ruben Ruiz, 44, her husband of 23 years, have three children: Jennehii and her twin brother, Eliel, both 21 and in college, and Ruben Jr., 17. Jenehii described Claudia as “a really loving and caring mom.”
“All the support we’ve had shows how much she’s loved,” she said Friday.
Jennehii Ruiz said her mother had a passion for cooking and knitting, and is “a firm believer in God,” having been an active member of Iglesia Cristo la Roca in New Castle for many years.
The church was instrumental in the search and took on much of the expense, although the Claudia Ruiz Benefit Account also was set up at Alpine Bank to help with the cost.