Holly White’s husband speaks out: ‘I was a suspect right off the bat. I expected that.’

Posted 5/20/16

When Jeff White received news that his wife and Taos resident, Holly Alcott White, was missing the morning of May 6, he immediately left Albuquerque and headed north.

He had already planned to arrive that afternoon to join her at a farewell party …

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Holly White’s husband speaks out: ‘I was a suspect right off the bat. I expected that.’

Posted

When Jeff White received news that his wife and Taos resident, Holly Alcott White, was missing the morning of May 6, he immediately left Albuquerque and headed north.

He had already planned to arrive that afternoon to join her at a farewell party to be held in her honor at the Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) that evening. After a 22-year run as the office manager for the TCA, Holly White had given her notice, and was scheduled to work through May 13. She was in the midst of training her replacement, and friends say she was looking forward to moving to Albuquerque, where Jeff White had taken a new job and found a house for the couple. She had an interview lined up as an office manager at a dentist office, and their Taos home was under contract with a scheduled closing date.

But the farewell party never happened. Instead it would become a search party.

After White was reported missing to New Mexico State Police, a missing persons investigation was launched May 7 and a search and rescue effort in the area of the Río Grande Gorge Bridge started. That’s because White’s vehicle had been located at the Gorge Bridge parking area.

“I had just talked to her Thursday night [May 5]. We were making plans to go to the party. We were just laughing and joking — just like always,” Jeff White said in an exclusive phone interview with The Taos News May 17.

“My take on this, really, is she got taken. Somebody came to the door probably early Friday morning, woke her up, she knew him, and so she kind of answered the door. I don’t know any other scenario, because she isn’t the type of person to leave without a note,” he said.

“Everything was here, her belongings, her cell phone, her charge cards, her license — and so they told her to leave in a hurry, and so apparently she knew him. The dog was there, too. This was more her dog, they bonded together,” White said of their pet who he said she’d never leave behind.

White denies having any involvement in his wife’s disappearance and says he is in shock.

“I was a suspect right off the bat. I just expected that, of course. I watch those cop shows. I live in Albuquerque. We rented the house through my boss at work. He lives right next door. I was there at work the next morning at the regular time, no big deal. No, I couldn’t do anything like that to anybody,” he said.

‘She didn’t jump’

White said it was hard for him to process that his wife was missing.

“I couldn’t even think on Friday. I didn’t even really eat until Sunday, when a buddy came over. I was just shocked. Now I’m confused. I don’t know what really went on. I know damn well she didn’t jump. She didn’t leave me. There would’ve been a note. She’s not a cold person. She wouldn’t leave her dog. I don’t know why she would just leave on her own, she just wouldn’t,” he said.

The Taos community, in general, and White’s friends, in particular, were also in a bit of disbelief. Those close to White describe her as meticulously organized and warm. She is well-known from her decades of work at the TCA. Some speculate that she was abducted in the night, and that her kidnapper parked the car at the gorge as a decoy to throw investigators off.

Some say, with the couple’s house on the market, it is possible the keys were more accessible to others than usual.

However, the state police say the most likely scenario is that she jumped off the Río Grande Gorge Bridge, and at least for now, there is no evidence of foul play.

Moving forward

On May 12, state police searched from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., covering 16 miles of the Río Grande with a dive team. Bill Miller of Big River Raft Trips volunteered his rescue boat. “They didn’t dive, but they were there (with Miller) in case they had to go in and retrieve a body,” state police said.

“The river is running pretty fast and pretty deep. The team assisted with communications and whatever support they needed,” said state police, who also said it is common for people who jump from the bridge to be found by river rafters in late summer, once the water level dissipates.

Before the raft search took place, river rafters had found a shoe floating among debris in the river, and state police said it was Holly White’s size. It was a black mesh Sketcher shoe with a Velcro strap, not a river rafting shoe, but a woman’s comfort shoe.

Cynthia Arvidson, the friend who originally reported White as missing, said it could have been hers. Jeff White said that Arvidson showed him another pair of Holly’s shoes that were like the one found in the river, but in a different color. He thinks someone parked the car at the gorge as a decoy and threw the shoe over the bridge to sidetrack police.

White wants investigators to do more

White said he is not satisfied with the state police investigation.

“They are just so slow. They are just moving at a snail’s pace,” he said. White said he had to think of things they didn’t — like the possibility of her having an affair — which he doesn’t think would be true, but that it’s a possibility to be considered.

For example, he said state police didn’t immediately take her bed sheets to test for the DNA of someone other than the two of them.

“A neighbor came and said how sorry he was, but told me there was a black Toyota Solara with Colorado plates [at the residence] Thursday morning (May 5),” said White. “He noticed it at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.”

White added that he learned there were two men who exited from the gorge on May 6, and as of May 17, he said state police hadn’t yet interviewed them.

White intends to keep pressure on the state police, saying he’d file complaints and urge them to do a more thorough investigation of his wife’s disappearance. He says it seemed they are only considering the scenario that she jumped off the bridge.

“If she is down in the gorge, she didn’t go by herself. She was pushed or something,” he said.

White said he’s been staying at their house in Taos since the disappearance.

“We had a closing date of May 20, but I can’t sell it without her signature. Maybe it will happen. I’m renting [the Albuquerque] house for a year. She was all excited about it, she loved it,” he said.

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