Mexico - Jenny Chen, 26, Oaxaca, 11 April 2016 #1

Discussion in '2010's Missing' started by JerseyGirl, Apr 24, 2016.

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  1. JerseyGirl

    JerseyGirl Moderator Staff Member Forum Coordinators

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    Jenny Chen, 26, went on a backpacking trip through Mexico in March. This trip also included hitchhiking to different cities. Jenny was also a member of the traveling website couchsurfing.com, and used it to find places to stay during her trip.

    Jonathan, her husband, was supposed to meet Jenny in Cancun on April 15th, but she never showed up. The last time friends and family heard from her was April 11th when she was in Oaxaca.

    Help Find Jenny Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/helpfindjenny/?pnref=story

    [​IMG]

    http://q13fox.com/2016/04/23/wallingford-man-says-wife-missing-in-mexico/
    http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/woman-missing-on-oaxaca-cancun-trip/
     
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  3. margarita25

    margarita25 Jessica Ridgeway. Never Forgotten.

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    Backpacking, hitchhiking and couchsurfing through Mexico? Does not sound safe at all...jmo.
     
  4. KayElJay

    KayElJay Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Oh my gosh, those were my thoughts exactly! At least 2 out of the 3 would make my list of most dangerous things to do while in Mexico (or anywhere, really). She appears to be quite petite too, which would make her all the more vulnerable. I'm very concerned for her!
     
  5. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    What was she thinking! Hitchhiking in Mexico?

    "Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca - In Oaxaca city, U.S. citizens should avoid hiking around the auditorium and observatory at Cerro del Fortin, as foreigners are routinely held up at knifepoint and robbed in that area.

    ...
    U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter organized criminal groups that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere, and U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery. While many of those killed in organized crime-related violence have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 100 in 2014 and 103 in 2015."

    https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html
     
  6. JerseyGirl

    JerseyGirl Moderator Staff Member Forum Coordinators

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    Her husband is also raising money to hire a private investigator. He speculated that money may be needed for a “ransom,” although he hasn’t heard from anybody. He also fears that his wife may have been sold into human trafficking. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle...es-missing-in-mexico-during-backpacking-trip/

    it was a chance for her to clear her head and figure out what she wants to do with her life. The two met while he was living in China in 2008. They two eventually moved to the U.S.. Chen was granted permanent residency and was working toward becoming a citizen. But she struggled to find work. One last adventure on her own seemed like the perfect way to refocus.

    Reinhard says they kept in close contact through Skype and Facebook as his wife posted photos of her adventures in different cities along the way.

    The two agreed to meet up at the Cancun airport on April 15, but Chen never showed up. The last time family and friends heard from her was 4 days earlier.

    On Friday, he's planning to head back to Mexico to try to retrace his wife's steps.

    He's remains hopeful she will be found, but he fears something horrible may have happened to her.

    She was scheduled to be back in Seattle on July 5.

    http://komonews.com/news/local/seat...oes-missing-during-backpacking-trip-to-mexico
     
  7. Satchie

    Satchie New Member

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    I'm not sure there's any country where a young solo female can safely hitchhike, certainly not the US. I've been to Mexico several times and I've never seen anyone hitchhiking - buses travel everywhere and 2nd class is very cheap, though long distance, like from Oaxaca to Cancun, is not cheap. I hope she is found safe.
     
  8. tarabull

    tarabull Some humans are really bad at being human. ~Scott

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    There's a cheap form of travel called collectivos between (tourist zones) Tulum, Playa del Carmen & Cancun...

    http://www.travelyucatan.com/collectivo.php

    Where is Jenny?

    :candle:

    Do we know where in Cancun she was planning to meet her DH? & where we're they planning to stay?
     
  9. Momoffourboys

    Momoffourboys Active Member

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    Interesting that he says they kept in close contact via skype and FB. Wifi/internet is spotty in most of Mexico. Even if staying in high priced resorts. If hitchiking/backpacking through the area, I can't imagine how she would have access to internet to keep close contact. Even the high end resorts charge a daily fee for wifi usage. And it's mediocre, at best.

    Having said that..IMO anyone traveling alone through Mexico is in danger. Let alone a foreign woman.
     
  10. JerseyGirl

    JerseyGirl Moderator Staff Member Forum Coordinators

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    It was reported that she was travelling using the couchsurfing site, so she was staying in private homes and not hotels.
     
  11. Portabella

    Portabella New Member

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    If something horrid happened, she may never be found.... I cannot help but think, what was she thinking. I feel sorry for her and her family, I assume they did not understand the dangers of Mexico, hitchhiking as a female alone, and couch surfing as a female alone. IMHO
     
  12. DanceCard

    DanceCard Member

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    I spent some time in Oaxaca around 4 months ago. We stayed in the holiday resort of Huatulco which felt fairly safe and is a very pleasant, pretty town. We were warned by many of the locals not to stray far out from Huatulco town because of the dangers.
    Even though it felt quite safe there I was on my guard the whole time and made sure to keep my wits about me. It certainly had a differerent vibe than say Cozumel or Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta. I can't imagine travelling alone there.
    Mexico is a country of much beauty but as we know, it's dangerous. I hope Jenny is safe but I'm very concerned for her.
     
  13. Satchie

    Satchie New Member

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    There are cheap plans you can get in the US to use your smart phone internationally, which is what I imagine she would do. Unfortunately, expensive electronics are quite desirable to thieves.

    I disagree that Mexico is a dangerous country to travel in, there is a well-worn "gringo trail" for backpackers going between major destinations like Oaxaca and Tulum. They stay in hostels and travel on buses by the thousands every year. But single women everywhere are vulnerable to predators, of any nationality. It doesn't mean they can't travel, but they need to protect themselves.
     
  14. Cryptic

    Cryptic Member

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    And the further one strays from the "gringo" backpacking trails, the main tourist sites, or the established expatriate communities, Mexico can become increasingly dangerous very fast. There have been several murders of foreigners who while, surfing, motorcycling etc. strayed into a cartel controlled area.

    Well said.
     
  15. Fiddlehead

    Fiddlehead Member

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    Jenny's FB page shows she was last in Oaxaca City and has pics of buses, though I see they are local buses you pick up on the street (2nd and 3rd class) like the kind that take you to nearby towns. The pics don't appear to be at the big Oaxaca bus station where you would pick up a long-distance bus to another state.

    Her husband should try to determine where she last stayed and try and piece together exactly what her travel route and plans were.

    If I were planning to travel from Oaxaca City to Cancun and had just a few days to get there, I would take a bus up to the coast (like to Coatzacoalcos) and bus along the gulf to Campeche, then on to Cancun. The whole trip would be well under $100, and even much cheaper than that on a 2nd/3rd class bus.

    No way would I hitchhike and like others have said, not only is hitchhiking uncommon there's no reason to do it because the bus system is so good and so cheap.

    I would not have gone to that part of the Gulf Coast alone unless I was planning to plow straight through because there's not much there for my interests and not many tourists. But in terms of which parts of Mexico have drug cartel activity, that whole route is pretty safe as long as you stick to high traffic areas. http://howsafeismexico.com/resources/mexicomap10.jpg

    I'm a woman and backpacked alone in Mexico and found Oaxaca City's downtown core to be perfectly safe. Oaxaca has lots of tourists from all over the world and lots of tourism infrastructure. There are several Spanish language schools there and she was studying Spanish. It may give a false sense of security after a time in Oaxaca to then leave the city and travel to more rural areas that are less safe. I personally took ramshackle buses to nearby towns to see ruins and traveled by first class bus between major cities in states and never felt unsafe. Also I never went more than a few hours without seeing an internet cafe even in pretty small towns - they are all over the place and charge by the minute. It's how many locals access the internet.

    It must be so frustrating for her husband to not get the immediate support he needs from authorities (like the US embassy) I assume because she was not yet a citizen.
     
  16. AmyPond

    AmyPond Well-Known Member

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    Yikes. I don't feel good about this at all. :( Her poor family.
     
  17. ms_x_to_the_m

    ms_x_to_the_m Active Member

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    I hope this poor girl is found.
    I sure hope they have contacted the hospitals.
    A young girl should be able to travel on her own. It's so sad. And I agree it can't be all that safe. Anywhere. Not just Mexico.
     
  18. Lolly85x

    Lolly85x New Member

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    :(. How sad. I hope she may have just lost her phone & is unable to contact her family. I hope she has it been too trusting as it sounds like she is.
    I think if the police were really to looking into her online activity & try and trace her there must be some sort of footprint of where she was and when if she has been arranging travel and accommodation online.
     
  19. Satchie

    Satchie New Member

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    I think it's complicated by jurisdictions, for eg, can Mexican police demand info from a US cellphone company? Also, normally the consulate of the foreigner will liaise with Mexican authorities, but was she a US citizen, or still a citizen of China?
     
  20. ms_x_to_the_m

    ms_x_to_the_m Active Member

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    As per the info previously released she was not a US citizen. I believe she had her US residency.
     
  21. marcyjoy

    marcyjoy New Member

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    I read through all of her posts on her Facebook page that I could read (public, that is, no idea if anything was posted privately). I get the sense that she is incredibly smart. She has a wicked dry sense of humor and despite the language barrier, seems to understand the situations she is in as best she can. She seems to be amazingly curious and have a hunger to know and learn more. Admirable qualities.

    However, she seems incredibly naive. And young. I don't remember how old she is, but she seems to be taking on the world with a childlike wonder. I am particularly worried that she seems to be fascinated with the prevalence of porn and how "open" the society is to it.

    I also saw a comment from her husband that indicated that they are (were?) looking at taking backpackers in and it makes me feel like this is something they have discussed in the past, and maybe she just became transfixed with the idea of independence and learning and experiencing another culture.

    There are comments all through her facebook posts about people urging her to be careful and others concerned for her safety. It makes me so sad that her adventure would potentially have such a terrible ending.

    Some things I'd like to know:
    1. Did her husband go to Cancun as planned, to meet her? I haven't seen confirmation.
    2. I would like to know how they met.
    3. What is her educational background?
    4. I find it odd that in some posts, she comes across as being quite the penny pincher and possibly even short on cash (or maybe just overly frugal?) but in other posts she seems to have a lot of cash. I wonder if she planned her funds enough to be gone so long.

    I'm hoping that something happened to her smart phone and she is just in an area that she can not get in touch with anyone and will surface soon. I guess in this scenario, that might be the best case.

    ETA: I guess I should have read better. She is 26 and they met in 2008 while he was working in China. Makes her 18-ish when they met.
     
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