365 Days of Texas True Crime: Judie
The last time anyone saw 32-year-old Judie Munguia was on the evening of May 28th, 1981. Her husband, Lupe Munguia, reported her missing June 6th, 1981. She was last seen leaving her home in her Gray, 1977 Lincoln Continental where she lived with husband and her 11-year-old son Michael, at 5608 McKnight around 1 a.m. with two small articles of luggage (I’ve seen Michael’s age reported as 11, 13 and 14, so I could be wrong but I’m going off what little information I found). At the time, it was reported that her vehicle had personalized license plates marked “Mungia” (pretty sure it was spelled correctly as, Munguia, but the paper is always full of mistakes). Her husband said that his wife told him that she was going to drive to a friends house in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to her husband, she would be gone several days. Judie never made it to her friends house and she has never been seen or heard from again.
I’m going to stop right here and make an observation, a non-professional, purely “my point of view” observation. This momma is about to make a three and a half hour drive to go stay with a friend for several days in the month of May. Her son is around 11 years old which mean that although he is a school aged kiddo, he is on summer break. I can only speak from experience but I know if it were me and I was heading out to stay with a friend for a few days in the summer I would be taking my little boy. For one, it’s summer, so he’s out of school and if she doesn’t take him that means leaving him with his daddy, whom I can only assume has a job and would need to be at work every day, leaving an 11 year old at home alone for days. Second, from what I’ve read, Judie was a good mother, and she adored her son…if she was leaving to go stay somewhere, anywhere, for a few days, she would have taken her son with her.
Judie’s friend in Oklahoma told investigators that she wasn’t expecting Judie. If Judie was in fact planning to visit her friend she hadn’t let he know she was going to do so. She wasn’t reported until five days after the last time she had been seen. After she had been missing for three months a small story was published in The Odessa American on August 27th, 1981 regarding her continued disappearance. Her name was misspelled in that article as, Judye, instead of the Judie, that is what I am fairly confident is the correct spelling of her name. In the story it is said that Ector County district attorney investigator Linda Primera suspects foul play, which is not normally what I see with missing women in the 80’s, although this story is after three months and what I read about in the paper on missing women is normally after only a few days and those stories often report that investigators don’t initially suspect foul play. In the story it is also said that the vehicle she left in is also missing and that although she had several credit cards there had been no purchase made on any of them. Here is the weirdest part of the story, and the part of the story that makes what her husband said, seem very likely to be untrue. Her husband tells police that she told him she was going to drive to her friends house in Oklahoma, this friends husband had just died in February and Judie was taking care of her child for her, at the time, as in she had her friends child with her, at her home, when she supposedly was driving to that child’s mothers house and she didn’t take the child with her, nor did she take her own child. I’m sorry but that makes absolutely no sense at all.
Judie’s car was found November 14th, six months after she went missing, in the parking lot of the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma by Oklahoma officials. According to the information they find during the course of the investigation into the discovery of her car, the vehicle had been there since June 7th, the day after her husband called to report her as a missing person.
Judie’s family didn’t just lay down and accept that the police department was doing everything they could to find their girl, that’s me saying that not them. I say that because after about seven months of her not being found, or possibly even before that, they hired a private investigator, put up a standing $20,000 reward for information in regards to her whereabouts and employed at Dallas psychic to try anything they could to find her.
Her husband Lupe, is saying the kinds of things I’ve seen other guilty husbands say when their wives “mysteriously” go missing. He tells reporters who interview him for a half page spread in the paper, that he believes that “She’s alive. She’ll be back.” He also goes on to say that he has heard reports that Judie was seen in Odessa and also in Monahan’s since she went missing. Those sightings could not be substantiated. When Lupe was questioned by investigators about the night his wife was last seen, he told them that she took two small luggage articles with her. When her vehicle was found they did what law enforcement always does when they’re investigating a missing person, they secured the vehicle to be processed for evidence. The luggage is not found. What they do find in the car is that it has been wiped down very well, so there are no fingerprints, and five spent .22 bullet casings in the back seat.
Judie Lowery went to Odessa High School in the 60’s but dropped out (she went on to get her equivalency diploma). She got married young. Not long after she and Lupe Munguia were married he was sent to Vietnam. While he was gone Judie had Michael. She was smart, she worked at the Texas Commission for the Blind, however at the time she went missing she was at home taking care of her family. She was very close with her son and had the opportunity to spend some beautiful time with him while doing so. She was also very close with her sister and her parents whom she visited at their home, during the week several times. Up until around 1990 Judie’s husband, Lupe Munguia, spoke freely with reporters for the stories they published in the paper pressing the public for information. When reporters contacted him for an interview for an article for the paper in July of 1990, they were told that he did not want to talk about his wife. He told reporters they could contact his lawyer, Bill Bowden. After ten years of his wife missing, when he’s contacted by the paper seeking what they are all seeking, which is typically a quote they can add to their story, he says that it’s too sensitive of a subject to talk about now. His lawyer says that “It’s still too upsetting for him.” Her family never stops trying to find their girl, however, they do realize that odds are that she is no longer living, but they never stop looking for her. In one of the articles I read Judie’s mom said that the family will continue to keep the vigil for her, she said “We’ll never give up—never.” Judie’s mom and dad never did give up. They left this world never having found out what happened to their daughter.
Her mom, Dimples Lowery died at 79 years old on October 2nd, 2009 and her daddy, J.J. Lowery, followed soon after on December 13th that same year at the age of 87. Her son got married in December of 1987. His momma didn’t get to see what an amazing young man he turned out to be or meet the beautiful young woman married.
Judie’s family says that she loved her son more than anything or anyone in this world and that she lived for her boy. They know she wouldn’t have left without him, which means she didn’t leave of her own choice.
Her car being left at an Oklahoma City airport parking lot after her husband saying that she told him she was driving to Oklahoma City, might make you think that she drove there and hitched a ride on a plane, assembly running away from her life and the son who meant everything to her. NO. It’s way too convenient that the husband reports her missing the day after the vehicle she was driving shows up in the parking lot of the city he tells police that she told him, she was driving to. She’s caring for a child of a friend whose husband just died. The same friend she’s supposedly going to see and stay with. Are we to believe that she not only left her son, whom she loves more than anything, but she also left her friend’s child at home with her husband? She left two kids with a husband who has to work so she could go see a friend three and a half hours away?
Did the police check the information at the airport in regards to flights? I would assume they would check the flights for the day the car showed up in the parking lot, June 7th. The airport isn’t a small one, in fact it’s referred to as a “World Airport” and as of today there are eight airlines that fly out of the airport. I’m not sure how many there were in 1981 but regardless I’m sure looking over the flight manifests for an entire day’s worth of flights is no small task.
Her vehicle was found in the parking lot and processed for evidence. It is reported that the vehicle was wiped clean and no fingerprints were found but five spent .22 bullet casings were discovered in the back seat. Where those bullet casings wiped clean as well? If so, why would you wipe your fingerprints off spent bullet casings but leave them to be found in the back seat of a missing woman’s car?
Mr. Munguia told police that his wife had left their home at 1 a.m. to drive to her friends house in Oklahoma to stay for several days. He says she took only two small articles of luggage. I would love to read what they found in a search of the home. I’m assuming investigators issued a search warrant for her 5608 McKnight Drive address. If so, it would be very hard to determine which, if any, clothes were missing, however, it would be VERY easy to see if the most important items every woman would take with her on a trip would be missing, as they should be. Toothbrush, Shampoo and Conditioner, shower type items you would think she would take with her, but those are things she could just buy when she got to her friends house and some people do, I don’t but I know that’s an excuse a person could make if questioned about why those items are still in the home if she was leaving on a trip. Not as easy to explain would be the kind of items us ladies don’t just leave at home when we go on a trip for a few days…makeup. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all read through what was found during a search of the home, assuming a search was in fact conducted? Stay tuned, I just might be able make that happen.
Judie Kay Munguia has never been heard from or seen since she went missing in May of 1981. When she went missing she was 32 years old. She was white, 5’3, 150 lbs, black hair, hazel eyes. She had a scar on her left leg between the knee and ankle. She had pierced ears.
There was no information on what she was wearing when she went missing.
Below is a list of found remains that might have, in some way, matched Judie that were compared by DNA and found to be excluded as being her.
If you have any information in regards to the disappearance of Judie Kay (Lowery) Munguia, contact the Ector County Sheriff’s Office at 432-335-3050 or the Texas Department of Public Safety Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 512-424-5074 or 1-800-346-3243.
She and her sister Jackie Kemp-Jones, were very close and I know that her sister still wants to know what happened to her sister.
Judie has been missing for 40 years.
Current list of exclusions for Judie per NamUs:
UP6279 12/18/1996 Fairfax VA
UP6629 02/03/1991 Frederick VA
UP10222 05/25/1981 Pulaski MO
UP6150 11/07/1998 Stafford VA
UP6661 02/03/1991 Stafford VA
UP12683 06/06/2014 Newport News VA
UP6796 11/18/1985 Alleghany VA
UP8493 12/06/1993 Fairfax VA
UP6642 08/07/1986 Chesterfield VA
UP6774 12/29/2009 Harris TX
UP4526 06/11/1984 Tarrant TX