Local News

38-year-old Godwin woman missing since Sunday, officials say

Posted January 19
Updated January 20

— The Sampson County Sheriff's Office is searching for a 38-year-old woman who has been missing since Sunday.

Maria Ventura-Cruz, of 2960 Hayes Mill Road, Godwin, was reported missing by a family member on Jan. 16, according to the sheriff's office. She was last seen on Jan. 15 around 7 p.m.

Family and friends described Ventura-Cruz as a very charismatic woman and a responsible mom.

Authorities are investigating and have not ruled out criminal misconduct.

"This is suspicious," said Sheriff Jimmy Thornton. "There could be potentially some criminal intent, but I'm not going to take it much farther than that."

Ventura-Cruz lives in her home with her boyfriend, the children's father, Francisco Yerbafria, 26.

Yerbafria was jailed Tuesday when he was charged with three misdemeanor counts of child abuse for leaving the children home alone, authorities said.

Thornton said he does not think Yerbafria has anything to do with his girlfriend's disappearance, but that he had been questioned.

Anyone with information on Ventura-Cruz should call the Sampson County Sheriff's Office at 910-592-4141.


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  • Tammy PriceAvent Jan 19, 2017
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    Has a "murder" been confirmed? The article states the sheriff does not believe the boyfriend has anything to do with her "murder". Hmmmm... What's the real truth here?

  • Mary Smith Jan 19, 2017
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    Robert, there is something seriously wrong with your character.