Iragene Jones, New Mexico Sheriff Series

“Stolen Lives”

By Jesse J Elliot

     “Hijo de puta!” exclaimed the stocky young man as he came running into the 

sheriff’s office.  “You won’t believe this, Sheriff.  Another girl has gone missing!  The 

kitchen girl, Flora, from the Ortizes disappeared last night after their baile.  That’s 

the fourth girl to disappear from this area in the past month, and all of them are 

either Indian girls or servants.”

     The Sheriff looked up from a pile of papers she had just received from the 

New Mexico Territory Governor.  Though still a territory, efforts were made to keep 

the order and to keep the established Mexicano families and the newly arrived 

American settlers safe--and able to pay their taxes.  All of this was the sheriff’s duty, 

and she took her job seriously.  Though some more traditional counties chose to 

maintain the alguacil mayor, the newly formed county of Brazos chose to have an 

elected sheriff, and Iragene Jones was their recently elected official.  Though she 

hadn’t planned on being sheriff, it was her lot to have stopped a land corruption 

scheme in the county and to encourage the older sheriff to leave his position.  Now 

Iragene spent most of her week at the sheriff’s office in La Madera. 

Sheriff Jones couldn’t help but let a smile slip through at her usually shy 

young deputy and his colorful exclamations. “Wait, the fourth girl?  Who were the 

first three?  Who reported this, Cruz, and why wasn’t I told sooner?” she asked 

slightly annoyed. 

     “Pablo, the old manservant of Señor Ortiz reported her missing.   No one 

noticed her absence until this morning.  She worked late and then supposedly went 

to bed, but her bed wasn’t slept in.” 

     “Is it possible that she ran away back to her family or with a novio?” 

“No, I asked Pablo.  He seemed to know her well.  She’s got no family, and she 

didn’t have a novio.  He was pretty upset, especially with the rumors that are going 

around about the other missing girls.” 

     “What rumors are we talking about and again, why didn’t anyone tell me?” 

she asked him.  New Mexico was not like any other place in the country.  It had a 

profusion of peoples, Pueblo Indians, Navajos, Apaches, Comanches, traditional 

Mexicanos, progressive Mexicanos, Penitentes, established Americans, newly arrived 

Americans and others.  Different religions, superstitions, experiences, and languages 

abounded in New Mexico.  The disappearance of so many young girls could trigger 

any amount of superstitious conjectures, and Iragene was not about to disregard the 

possibilities of any of those beliefs.  This was, after all, New Mexico.