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Ruben was last seen on April 7, 1983 in El Paso, Texas. He left home to walk to Eastwood Heights Elementary School and never arrived.
Later that day, someone called Ruben's family and demanded ransom money for the boy's safe return. They agreed to cooperate, but called the police instead. Ray Acosta, Ruben's stepfather's brother, was arrested when he went to pick up the ransom. Ruben wasn't with him at the time and Acosta told the police he was dead. He refused to say where the child's body was. Authorities believe it was he who placed the ransom call from a pay phone. He may have taken Ruben to Mexico in his silver and green 1977 Cadillac sedan.
Acosta was sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping. He died in 2012, still incarcerated. Before his death, authorities interrogated him again and asked if anyone else was involved in the ransom plot. Acosta said his only role in the crime was to collect the ransom money. He didn't offer any more details and Ruben's family members, including his stepfather and his mother, were ruled out as suspects in his abduction.
Ruben's mother is dead, but his stepfather and his two sisters are still alive. Foul play is suspected in Ruben's disappearance, which remains unsolved.