Reward for missing hiker Joseph Balderas raised to $20,000
After over two years without answers, the family of missing Nomeite Joseph Balderas increased the reward for information surrounding the 36-year-old’s disappearance from $10,000 to $20,000.
Balderas’s sister Salina Hargis said the decision has been on the family’s mind for “a while” as an attempt to find both answers and closure. “It’s the only thing we have control over,” she stated.
Balderas was believed to have been hiking near the East Fork of the Solomon River in late June of 2016, but never returned from the trip. Search efforts yielded no evidence and Balderas was legally declared deceased last year.
However, the nagging question of what led to his disappearance remains. Hargis hopes doubling the reward will provide people who may have information with additional incentive to come forward. She explained that a tip would allow the Alaska State Troopers to reopen their investigation into the case.
Members of the Balderas family testified at his presumptive death hearing last July that they believe Balderas’s disappearance was the result of foul play. Citing the extensive aerial and land searches, Hargis told the Nome Nugget, “I don’t think he just walked off or got lost, I don’t think there’s any way he’s out there,” she said. The last known traces of Balderas were his waders and hiking boots found inside the truck he had been driving, which was parked near mile 44 of the Nome-Council Highway.
Hargis, along with her mother and sister, are coming to Nome this week to personally post the reward signs. The three are making the trip both to thank volunteers they first met two years ago and “to feel a little closer” to their missing son and brother. “We have to find him, and we’ll do whatever it take, so we can be at peace,” she said.