Theories run wild as search for missing Taos woman continues

Jeff White and Holly Alcott White, 50, a Taos woman who was reported missing May 6, 2016. Courtesy photo

TAOS — The rumors have continued to swirl since Holly Alcott White, 50, a Taos resident who was the former Taos Center for the Arts general manager, was reported missing May 6.

Theories posited to explain White’s disappearance have ranged from a carefully planned, deliberate escape from life in Taos to kidnapping, suicide or foul play.

But nothing uncovered during the ensuing eight-month investigation has proven any theory correct.

Several searches conducted in and around Taos County and at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, where White’s car was found parked May 6, have come up empty. Grass-roots organizations and volunteer search parties conducted by friends and family have been similarly unsuccessful.

Given the lack of answers, there has been little else for the Taos community to do but wonder.

Although the case never evolved into a criminal one, Jeff White, Holly White’s husband, recently took — and passed — a polygraph test in the hope that at least one theory can now be dispelled: that he was somehow involved in her disappearance.

Elaine Graves, the private investigator who has been working with New Mexico State Police on the missing person case and a former Taos resident herself, administered the test.

“I was hired by Holly’s father in August,” Graves said, “and I feel like my job is to leave no stone unturned. If foul play is involved, I will find it. I am working closely with Holly’s dad, husband, friends, family and [New Mexico State Police]. The best outcome is that we find Holly alive and well, but I am looking into every possibility.”

Graves said White chose to take the test because he wanted to be completely ruled out as a suspect, and also to make sure that the case was moving forward.

Asked if he had anything to do with his wife’s disappearance and if he was in Taos during the evening or morning hours when Holly disappeared, he said “no,” Graves said, and no deception was detected on the polygraph test.

She said Jeff White maintains his wife may have answered the door to someone she knew or someone she thought needed help. He doesn’t believe his wife would have committed suicide without leaving a note, Graves said, and he doesn’t believe she would have disappeared on her own, without contacting someone by now, especially her father.

Despite rumors that Holly White had been having an affair, Jeff White said the couple had a happy relationship, Graves said. “They joked and laughed a lot. They were both looking forward to moving and being together in Albuquerque.”

A version of this story first appeared in The Taos News, a sister paper of The New Mexican.

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