Carla Valpeoz has been missing for more than a week after traveling to Peru. The 35-year-old from Detroit, who is legally blind, visited the South American country for a wedding.
Valpeoz and her friend Alicia Steele had planned to stay more than a week in order to visit tourist attractions. They separated and planned to meet up at the airport on Saturday, December 15, for the flight back to the United States. But Valpeoz never showed up. She was last seen on December 12.
Valpeoz’s disappearance has prompted a police search in Peru. The U.S. State Department has also joined the investigation.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Carla Valpeoz Was Last Seen December 12 on a Hiking Trail in Pisac, Peru
Carla Valpeoz’s brother Carlos, who lives in Brooklyn, has been using social media to raise awareness about his sister’s disappearance. It was first believed that she was last seen around 4 a.m on December 12 at the Pariwana Hostal in Cusco, near the popular tourist site of Machu Picchu. She was seen on a surveillance camera getting into a taxi early in the morning.
But Carlos shared on Facebook that witnesses have come forward to reveal that Valpeoz was spotted later that day in the village of Pisac. In a phone interview with CNN, he further explained that as many as three people saw Valpeoz get off a bus and walk toward a hiking trail that leads to an Inca site. The witnesses said Valpeoz was alone.
The plan was for Valpeoz to tour ancient sites before heading back to Lima to meet up with her travel companion, fellow Detroit native Alicia Steele. In a phone interview, Steele told the Detroit Free Press that she received a text message from Valpeoz just before midnight on December 11. Valpeoz wrote that she was excited to tell Steele all about the trip to Machu Picchu. She also confirmed the plans to meet in Lima on December 13. “I’m coming in on Thursday afternoon so I will send you the details through email once I check in. It would be a wonderful welcoming to have all of you come pick me up.”
2. Steele Filed a Missing Persons Report in Peru When Valpeoz Missed The Return Flight Back to the United States
Steele shared with the Detroit Free Press that she had not been overly concerned when Carla Valpeoz did not meet her in Lima on December 13. She said that Valpeoz is an experienced world traveler and assumed her friend was fine. Steele also assumed Valpeoz may have lost her phone.
Steele went to the airport on Saturday, December 15, as planned. But Valpeoz never arrived. That’s when Steele went to police and filed a missing persons report. She has remained in Peru to look for Valpeoz. Police have been unable to track Valpeoz through her phone; it has reportedly been off for several days. Her credit cards have also not been used.
Valpeoz’s brother, Carlos, shared on social media that the family is in contact with Perivuan police, the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Peru and even the office of Vice President Mike Pence as the search for his sister continues.
The State Department has not shared any details on the investigation. A spokesperson released a broad statement to Fox News: “The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas.”
Her father, Carlos López, has traveled to Peru as well to assist in the search for his daughter.
3. Carla Valpeoz Toured Machu Picchu With Another Group of Travelers, But Her Brother Does Not Believe They Were Involved With Her Disappearance
According to Carlos Valpeoz, his sister toured Macchu Picchu with a group of travelers from Spain. He told WJBK-TV in Detroit that Carla spent the entire day with these new friends.
After touring the ancient site, Carlos said “they were excited about their adventure and they wanted to go out to celebrate, so they they went out to a club in downtown Cusco.” They all stayed in the same hostel in Cusco.
But the group did not see Carla Valpeoz the next morning. She was recorded on a surveillance camera getting into a taxi around 4 a.m. alone. Her brother told the Detroit Free Press that he does not believe Carla’s new friends had anything to do with her disappearance. “They seem extremely concerned, really freaked out and very open and willing to discuss anything that I’ve asked them.”
Valpeoz was last seen traveling with a green backpack and walks with a cane.
4. Family: Carla Valpeoz Has Traveled All Over the World
Carla Valpeoz’s Facebook page is filled with posts from friends and family who are sharing her story in hopes that someone will have seen her. Carla’s brother says that she is an experienced world traveler. Her eyesight has never slowed her down in that regard. She began losing her eyesight at age seven.
Valpeoz’s travels have included trips to Yemen and Egypt. In April 2015, a friend shared the above photo from a village in Thailand. Valpeoz posted the photo below in April of 2018 from the Arabian Peninsula.
5. Carla Valpeoz Works as a Social Worker & Is a Vocal Advocate for the Visually Impaired
Valpeoz works as a social worker at Michigan United. According to its website, the organization is a “coalition of over 50 faith, labor, business, social service, and civil rights members all across Michigan, fighting for the rights of homeowners, renters, immigrant workers, families, and students.”
She is an advocate for the visually impaired. Valpeoz wrote a book called “Visionless Adventures” which was meant to inspire people to travel the world and pursue their dreams.