Missing in New Mexico Day returns for second year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – State, federal and tribal agencies came together Sunday at the Embassy Suites for the second annual Missing in New Mexico Day.

The event provided resources to loved ones of people who are missing and for them to bring up-to-date photos and information to investigators. 

Zachariah Juwaun Shorty was a talented musician and loving father with a kind heart.

“He would sing to me in the car, you know, just randomly. That smile, I will always remember his smile,” said Vangie Randall-Shorty.

At age 23, all of that was taken when Shorty went missing in Farmington. 

Four days later, his body was found on the Navajo reservation. 

“It wasn’t until I found his death certificate that I had found out he had died of gunshot wounds. Not wounds. It was then, reading between the lines, that I knew his life was taken. Then I got his report from OMI that gave detailed information,” said Vangie. 

Three years later, his mother is his voice. She is asking questions, keeping his memory alive and finding out what happened to her son. 

“He was a character, he was my youngest,” Vangie said. 

That’s exactly what she did Sunday during the second annual Missing in New Mexico Day. 

“You come here, and you retell your story of my tragic day. The last time that I hugged Zach, the last time that I told him I loved him. The day he went missing, July 21, 2020, is the last time I saw him,” said Vangie. 

“I know we are a small part of it, but we hope that we can help provide some of those connections, bring together along with the Department of Public Safety and other agencies to bring these resources together. So that family members feel like they have some place that they can go,” said Josett Monette, a deputy cabinet secretary and general counsel for the Indian Affairs Department.

This was just one of the many stories family members shared. They brought any photos, DNA, and documents to help investigators.

“Whoever I am meeting with, like the FBI agents, Farmington PD, Navajo Nation, the possibility of getting that help helps me. Just moments ago, I spoke with Farmington PD who did take the phone call when Zach went missing. Just having that connection is nice to have,” said Vangie. 

Vangie found out a new FBI agent is taking over her son’s case. She says jurisdictional issues, like the ones she has faced, make it harder to get those answers.

That is why she goes to every MMIP event so they know she will never give up. 

“It also lets his perpetrator know that I’m not standing down. I am Zach’s mom. I was his biggest fan when he was here, you know. The love that I had for him was unconditional and that pushes me to keep fighting,” said Vangie.