Could reward help solve case of missing Delano woman?

DELANO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) As he waits for information about the body found in a nearby canal, a Delano city councilman says now may still be the time to offer a reward for information about the disappearance of a young mother. The victim was discovered in the canal water on Tuesday, and an autopsy was done on Wednesday afternoon. But by early evening, no results or identification had been released.

Officers at the scene of the canal told Eyewitness News that victim is a woman, who appeared to have been in the water for "an extended period of time," and there were indications the death was suspicious. Loved ones worry that victim could be Erika Padron Lango, 26, who vanished from her Delano apartment in early October.

Delano City Councilman Joe Aguirre said he's just been in contact with Lango's family. "We had talked about revisiting, and coming out to the public and just obviously putting some reward money behind it," Aguirre told Eyewitness News. He'd been thinking about offering a reward just days before the body was found in the canal.

The investigation into Lango's disappearance has hit dead-ends, Aguirre said. "Honestly, the police department has just hit one roadblock after the other," he said. "There's just no information at all in this case." That's why he wonders if a reward will get results.

When the mother disappeared, the community was already reeling from the murder of long-time Delano resident, John Espinoza. The 88-year-old man was found dead in the trunk of his car submerged in a canal in late September. That death is being investigated as a murder, according to Delano Police.

With those two cases, Aguirre says the city council acted quickly to approve a new ordinance that sets up the process to offer rewards.

"Whoever these cowards are that are out there committing these types of acts, they need to be brought to justice," Aguirre says.

As for the body found in the canal, he's now waiting to see if that's confirmed as the mother who disappeared. Loved ones had combed areas nearby, and turned up no trace of her. Lango has four children, and Delano police said she was last seen by her husband at about 10 p.m. Oct. 9 when she left the apartment to visit a friend.

Earlier that evening, Lango had been seen with her husband on surveillance video at a convenience store. "We need information on what happened after that point," Aguirre said.

He said both the council and law enforcement have been working on the case tirelessly since then. "This is not something that we're going to sit idle," Aguirre said. "We're definitely going to continue to press forward and get to the bottom of everything."

The councilman said their next meeting is in two weeks, and he'll decide whether to ask for a $5,000 reward for information in the Lango case.

Aguirre says the reward would come from the city's general fund, and says that is money well-spent. He says investigations can require a lot of manpower and overtime to get information and solve a case.

Meanwhile he's waiting for more information on the body found in the canal, to see if that is linked to the missing mother.

Aguirre says that case needs to be solved. He's also concerned about the death of John Espinoza, and solving that case. "The reward program was developed because of all the major crimes that had just happened, and started to take place," he said.

"I don't want the family to believe for a minute that this council has forgotten the need to find this young lady," Aguirre says. "We definitely want to make sure that the appropriate steps are taken."