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Guadalupe was last seen in Santee, California on August 31, 1997. She planned to go to Las Vegas, Nevada with her boyfriend that weekend, but never did. She was reported missing on September 2. Shortly after her disappearance, her white Toyota pickup truck was found at La Petite Academy, the day care center on Carlton Hills Boulevard where she worked as co-director. She has never been heard from again. When authorities checked Guadalupe's apartment after her disappearance, all her personal belongings, including her toothbrush, hairbrush and photos of her two young children, were left behind. It is uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning, and she was happy with her life and her job in 1997.
Guadalupe was in the process of a divorce from her husband, James Dailey, at the time of her disappearance. A photograph of James is posted below this case summary. He refused to take a polygraph after she vanished and police searched his home. James, described as an aggressive individual, was reportedly "obsessed" with the idea of killing his wife and told coworkers he could dispose of her body so no one would ever find it. He suggested he could hide her body on the Viejas Indian Reservation, where he had once been a police officer. James had no history of violent behavior, however, in spite of his verbal threats.
James told police he met Guadalupe at his apartment on Lund Street on the afternoon of her disappearance and they argued about money. He says she left at 6:30 p.m. and he took his boat out on Mission Bay afterwards so he could "cool off." When investigators checked the boat, however, it had no spark plugs and appeared to have been out of the water for some time. Guadalupe's checkbook was found inside the boat, with a cash withdrawal receipt. She was reportedly afraid of the water and wouldn't have gotten on the boat voluntarily. James took his children and moved in with his sister in Muncie, Indiana several months after his wife vanished, and began a new life there. He enrolled in Ball State University as a English major.
In 2001, authorities charged James with Guadalupe's murder. At his trial later that year, his defense argued the case against him was circumstantial and there was no evidence Guadalupe was even dead. There was no physical evidence to prove murder, and Guadalupe's body had not been located. Some witnesses testified to seeing her alive after her supposed murder. James was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in November 2001. He continues to maintain his innocence.
Guadalupe's remains have never been found.
San Diego County's Sheriff's Office