Search for Missing Harlingen Attorney Continues

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HARLINGEN – The search for a Cameron County attorney continues. His family is also speaking out and asking for his safe return.

Ernesto Gonzales has not been seen for almost a month. But Harlingen Police Commander Carlos Cantu said they do not suspect foul play in his disappearance. 

Cantu said Gonzales' search has led law enforcement all across the Rio Grande Valley. 

"From Harlingen to South Padre Island, to other counties on the west side of the Valley," he said. 

He added this could be a case where Gonzales simply doesn't want to be found. 

"If somebody wants to disappear and they know how to do it, they can lay low under the radar and avoid detection very easily," he explained. 

Gonzales' sister, Mary Ann Villafana, said they want him home safe all family issues aside. They’re worried he may not be in a healthy state of mind.

Gonzales’ family gathered Thursday at the Cameron County Judicial Courthouse where he filed a protective order against them weeks ago.

He failed to show up to the court hearing for the protective orders.

His twin brother, Rick Gonzales, said they are putting those family issues aside to plea their brother come home.

“We want to find my brother because we love him. We were born and raised in a Christian family and we love my brother and we love my sister,” said Villafana. “We were taught love, and in many families you have problems and situations, but in the line of work that I work in, I’ve done many assessments and you kind of see a red flag when someone needs help.”

Villafana said she’s a nurse and in the months prior to Gonzales’ disappearance, she noticed he was not acting like himself.

She said he was dealing with the death of his mother besides the stress from work.

Right now, the family believed Gonzales may have recently been in contact with another Harlingen attorney, as well as at least one family member.  

Villafana said his gives them a sign that he is safe, but they’re worried that could change if he doesn’t get help.

Gonzales’ law practice in Harlingen remains closed.

Cantu told CHANNEL 5 NEWS detectives are looking into why several cellphones were recently delivered to Gonzales' home. He added the attorney recently put up his Primera home for sale. 

If Gonzales came forward and can prove he's safe and was just trying to get away, Cantu said police will discontinue their search efforts. Until that, he said they will continue to look for him. 

Anyone with information on Gonzales’ whereabouts can contact police at 956-425-8477. 

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