REDDING, Calif. – After suffering through years of substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence, Sara Martinez-Fabila could feel her life finally turning around.
Through treatment, Martinez-Fabila could see the damage drugs and violence had done to her, and she resolved to overcome it.
Martinez-Fabila, 51, wrote about her dreams to overcome her troubled past in 2015, along with numerous others who participated in the Shasta County Stand Against Stigma program, designed to break down the stigmas associated with mental illness.
It isn't clear whether Martinez-Fabila ever saw her dreams fulfilled. In November 2018, she was living in Paradise, California, when the Camp Fire destroyed nearly the entire town and killed 85 people.
Was she in Paradise during the fire?
A year after the fire swept through town, Butte County sheriff's officials said there is only one person that remains unaccounted for from the fire: Sara Martinez-Fabila.
Sheriff's officials aren't even sure she was in Paradise the day the fire swept through. Her last known address was a post office box in Paradise, and her family has not heard from her since the fire.
There is evidence that she wasn't killed in the blaze.
'She said she didn't want to be found'
On Dec. 13, about a month after the fire, the sheriff's office received a tip from a manager at a motel in Brownsville, California, that a woman named Sara Martinez tried to book a room for the night.
Jake Smith, a Butte County sheriff's detective, said he went to the motel and showed the manager a photo of Martinez-Fabila and she confirmed it was her. Since then, the leads have dried up, Smith said.
No bank, telephone, utility, tax or housing records have popped up associated with her name, he said.
Kathline Spring, general manager at the Brownsville Motel, said Martinez-Fabila stood out from the many others seeking rooms because of her insistence on accepting no help and refusing referrals for housing and other assistance.
"She said she didn't want to be found. Those were her words," Spring said.
Sara Martinez-Fabila remembered
A mother of five children, she had difficulty with drug abuse and mental illness, and she lost custody of her kids, said Marc Dadigan, a former Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency employee.
"She was really a brave, powerful speaker," Dadigan said. "I was and still am upset that she is missing and hasn't been found."
Lori Heinrichs Cahill said she met Martinez-Fabila in 2014 when her son was doing an Eagle Scout project at a Redding transitional housing site for women.
Cahill remembered her as a woman of faith who read her Bible daily. One of her daughters attended law school at Columbia University, she said.
"We talked off and on for about six months, and she eventually gave a very emotional speech at my son's Eagle Court of Honor where she thanked my son for caring about the often 'forgotten' women in our community," Cahill said.
"It's all so strange, but I do know that her case was being actively investigated. Fire or not, she is a missing person and a lovely woman. She was warm, kind, beautiful and well-spoken," Cahill said.
Smith said his department has about 35 active missing persons cases, and unlike Martinez-Fabila's case, most people are found within a month or two.
If anyone believes they have seen Martinez-Fabila, Smith said they should call the Butte County Sheriff's Office at 530-538-7321.
Follow Damon Arthur on Twitter at @damonarthur_RS.
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This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Camp Fire: Sara Martinez-Fabila remains the last person missing
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