Why Are There So Many Missing People in Humboldt County?

An average of 717 people per 100,000 go missing in Humboldt County every year, giving it the highest per-capita missing persons rate in the state. By contrast, per 100,000, California sees 384 missing persons cases on an annual basis.

The eye-popping figures have earned Humboldt County the nickname, “the black hole.” They have even spawned unsubstantiated rumors about a possible serial killer wandering this part of the Emerald Triangle.

For missing children, the numbers in Humboldt are also high. The county is sixth in the state for missing minors.

"It's a bit curious as to why that might be," Bob Lowery, Vice President of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told the North Coast Journal. But he didn’t seem particularly worried. "It could be that the county sheriff and local police are very aggressive in accepting reports and getting them into the system. I'm not aware of any critically missing children in Humboldt County. If you dig into those number a little deeper, the reports are generally going to be runaway children."

For the missing adults, says Lt. Dennis Young, cannabis is often involved.

"Many people from throughout the state, nation and world come to Humboldt County to work in the cannabis industry. They often times will not communicate with friends and family regarding their location, and/or they go off the grid for extended periods of time. Many of those individuals will return home and no one notifies law enforcement that they are no longer missing. Consequently, they remain in the data base. Some missing persons are victims of homicides with no apparent leads and lack of witness cooperation."

That’s what happened in one missing persons case out of Humboldt County currently making national headlines.

Rebekah Martinez, 22, was reported missing by her mother in November after telling her she was going to Humboldt to work on a marijuana farm. Then, she showed up on the Bachelor

Martinez’s whereabouts were discovered when a viewer saw her picture on a flyer of missing persons posted by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and recognized her one of the contestants on the show.

"MOM. how many times do I have to tell you I don't get cell service on The Bachelor??" Martinez later quipped on Twitter.

The families of dozens of other men and women missing in Humboldt over the past month aren’t so lucky. They continue awaiting their loved one’s return, knowing that the chances of finding them grow dimmer with every day.

See a photo list of 35 people missing from Humboldt County since January 18 here