HOUSTON — The family of fallen Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Almendarez says this isn't the first time their family has experienced tragedy. They're hoping by sharing their story more people will learn about Missing in Harris County Day.
It's an event happening Saturday, providing free resources to families of the missing.
“He was supposed to be there this Saturday," said Alice Almendarez, who was planning to see her uncle, Deputy Almendarez, this weekend.
“Me and my uncle were super close," she said.
He was killed on March 31st trying to stop thieves from stealing his catalytic converter.
“I know now with these catalytic converter thefts, something has to change, I think it prepared me in that way," she said.
Before her uncle was murdered, her dad went missing.
John Joseph Almendarez disappeared in 2002. His body was found in Buffalo Bayou that same year, but he sat unidentified in Harris County’s John Doe Cemetery until years later.
“I got the phone call September 17, 2014, I remember the day,” she said.
That was the year Alice decided to submit a DNA swab. Turns out, in a national database called NameUs there was a match.
“I knew I’d find him; I wasn’t going to die without knowing where my dad was, there was no way,” she said.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Alice helped pass a law in Texas requiring agencies to upload information on missing persons to NameUs. She says her uncle was her biggest cheerleader.
“I have a message from him from whenever the law got passed and he was like I’m so proud of you baby," she said.
He was planning to be by her side this Saturday at Missing in Harris County Day, where she’s going to be presented with a copy of the legislation.
The event, sponsored by Texas Center For The Missing, provides free resources for families of the missing.
After living through two tragedies, it’s resources the Almendarez family knows are needed all too well.
“It doesn’t matter how old how are or long you’ve been missing, or whether you are a citizen or not, you can get the help you need," she said.
Saturday’s event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Children’s Assessment Center off 59 and Kirby. Anyone coming should bring a picture of your missing loved one.