LUBBOCK, TX — Foul play may have led to the disappearance of Lubbock woman Sandy Michelle Cervantes, reported missing nearly a year after she was last seen, Lubbock police said.

But Cervantes’ friends said they tried to call police when she first went missing in June 2019, but it wasn’t until eight months later in February 2020 — after her family reported her missing — that the police investigation started.

“Sandy is good people, she always has been. It’s just very upsetting that nobody seems to care that she’s missing,” Courtney Horton, Sandy’s best friend and cousin, said.

Cervantes is a 34-year-old mother of three, and according to both Horton and LPD, she was last seen or heard from in June 2019. Days after she disappeared LPD said investigators found Cervantes’ car on fire and then found her purse in a dumpster in Abernathy.

While they said they suspected foul play, LPD would not confirm if they had any suspects at this time.

For Cervantes’ loved ones, they said it wasn’t uncommon for her to go off the grid and disappear with her daughters from time to time. Horton said she believes this habit is the reason why her immediate family went so long before they even realized she was gone and called police.

Horton added she’s known Cervantes for more than 10 years, and she was married to Cervantes’ cousin. She emphasized that her friend was someone that stood up for her and helped her get out of an abusive relationship.

“She was always doing for everybody. If she could help you, she would. Even if it put her out, she would help you. Her door was open to everybody if they needed a couch to sleep on,” Horton said.

She first realized her friend was missing after Cervantes didn’t show up for Horton’s son’s birthday party — an event she never missed. Then, the second red flag was that she wasn’t able to reach Cervantes by phone or by social media for weeks.

However, it was when Horton realized that Cervantes had left her kids at home that she knew something bad must have happened.

“Once I realized she didn’t have her kids, that’s when I was like, ‘Something’s wrong.’ She wouldn’t leave town without her kids … She wouldn’t leave them here. Her girls are her life,” Horton said.

LPD said it’s put several hundreds of hours of investigation into the case, and now they’ve put Cervantes’ information on NamUs, which is a national database for missing persons.

“[LPD is] really hoping for the public’s help with more information about Sandy’s whereabouts, or information they know about her, or just anything that somebody might have to share that could help in our investigation,” Allison Matherly, LPD Public Information Officer said.

Horton said that after Cervantes’ father died from a drug overdose, she started hanging with the wrong crowd and got involved with drugs.

However, she said Cervantes was turning her life around and planning a big move with her daughters right before she disappeared.

Horton added that two other cousins of hers, Zoe Campos and Mark Ysasaga, also went missing and then were later found dead — a fate from which she hopes her friend is spared.

LPD is asking those who might have any information on Cervantes’ disappearance to call Sgt. Justin Anderson at (806) 775-2401.