Jose Esuaro Dominguez: Missing For More Than Four Decades

Jose Esauro Dominguez
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News & Politics
Jessica Powers

Jose Esuaro Dominguez, known by family and friends as "Che," was just another California teenager until August 2, 1981. That is the day that the young man went missing, never to be heard from again.

But San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office and the teenager's family and friends still haven't given up hope, more than 40 years later, that they will someday get answers about what happened to him.

He Went To Play Ball With Friends And Never Returned Home

 Jose Esauro Dominguez
youtube | Crystal's Crime Time

According to the FBI, Dominguez was last seen in a neighborhood of east Stockton after leaving his home to meet up with friends and play ball at Stockton's Stribley Park. He told his parents he would be gone for about two hours.

The FBI reported at the time of his disappearance that Dominguez was wearing a black T-shirt with a Cancer zodiac sign and the words "Che" printed below, gray corduroy pants, and gray tennis shoes.

Considered To Be A Possible Runaway

 Jose Esauro Dominguez
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When he did not show up back home, some people believed Dominguez was a runaway, as family and tipsters reported him as being seen. However, Dominguez never reappeared or contacted family or friends, which was unusual for the teen.

Dominguez was a student at Franklin High School in Stockton and an avid wrestler. He also played an instrument in the school band.

Two Men Charged In His Disappearance And Murder

Jose Esauro Dominguez missing poster
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In 1989, two men, Luis Pete Gagliasso and Manuel Sanchez Jr. were charged with killing Jose on the day of his disappearance. The two would've been teens when the murder occurred, and they were reportedly friends with Jose at the time.

The motive for Jose's alleged murder could have been because he found out the two were lovers. One of the two suspects stated that Jose's remains were buried in Ripon, but searches there never turned up any evidence proving this theory. The charges against the two were dropped due to lack of evidence and a witness came forward contradicting those claims.

The Investigation Continues Four Decades Later

The investigation continues.
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At the end of last year, the missing persons unit of the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office acted on a tip and searched an undisclosed area of San Joaquin County concerning the 1981 disappearance of Dominguez. Federal, state, and local agencies partnered to search the location.

"Due to the ongoing and open nature of this investigation, no further details will be made available at this time," the county said at the time. "Please keep Che and his family in your thoughts and prayers as we work to bring his family closure."

Sheriff Patrick Withrow later said that partial skeletal remains were found in the eastern part of the county. DNA results have not been released since then.

Information Still Sought In The Disappearance Of Dominguez

FBI uniform
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The FBI is now offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the location of Jose "Che" Dominguez, who disappeared on August 2, 1981. This is in addition to the $10,000 offered by Stockton CrimeStoppers.

Today, Dominguez would be 56 years old. His family created a Facebook to share information about their brother and keep his memory alive. In 2020, a family member posted, "It has been 39 long hard years without you in our lives. It has been 39 years we have to wonder what happened & where you are. It has been too long brother, and we all miss you an incredible and indescribable amount."

Those who have any information regarding this case should call the SJSO Cold Case Hotline at 209-468-5087 or the Stockton CrimeStoppers at 209-946-0600

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