Hopes, Fears : Family, Friends Think Denise Huber, Missing for 10 Days, Is Still Alive


It has been 10 days since Denise Huber mysteriously disappeared, but neither the police nor her family and friends have given up hope.

“Everyone says that as the days go by, it’s getting worse and worse. But I believe she’s alive, maybe being held against her will,” her boyfriend, Steve Horrocks, said Wednesday.

Huber, 23, was last seen at 2 a.m. on June 3 after she and Robert Calvert, 24, one of Horrocks’ friends, attended a Morrissey concert at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, then went to the El Paso Cantina in Long Beach.


Calvert said Huber dropped him off at his Huntington Beach house about 2 a.m. She then headed home to Newport Beach. Her car, a blue 1984 Honda Accord, was found abandoned with a flat tire on the Corona del Mar Freeway, south of Bear Street in Costa Mesa.

Since her disappearance, Costa Mesa police have issued several police bulletins, and have searched that freeway area three times, aided by police Explorer Scouts.

“But we don’t have any clues,” Costa Mesa Sgt. Ron Smith said. He acknowledged that as each day passes without any sign of the missing woman, the chances of finding her alive dim. But he said he believes that she is alive.

Meanwhile, her family and friends have stepped up their own efforts to help find her. A reward of $10,000 for information leading to her safe return has been raised, and more than 15,000 flyers with her picture have been distributed at shopping malls, swap meets and at last Friday’s Angels game.

Horrocks, 22, of Huntington Beach, said flyers, printed in Spanish and English, have been handed out in the Costa Mesa neighborhood where Huber’s car was found.

“We thought a lot of people might not have been able to understand them in English and a lot of Mexican nationals are restaurant workers in that area,” he said.


Although Huber’s parents have declined to speak to the media, Horrocks said “they haven’t given up at all.”

On Friday, Pastor Walter D. Shepard Jr. announced her disappearance to the congregation at Aliso Creek Presbyterian Church in Laguna Niguel, adding: “We are all praying for the Hubers.”

Also, friends have been sending facsimiles of the flyer to cities nationwide where they have acquaintances. In addition, Horrocks said, he plans to distribute flyers in Tijuana this weekend, in case she was taken there.

“I know that lots of people have said that she probably just took off. But she would have called her parents and let them know where she was, or she would have called me,” Horrocks said.

He explained that Huber, a waitress at the Cannery restaurant in Newport Beach and a cashier at the Broadway in Fashion Island, wasn’t the type of person who would voluntarily accept a ride from a stranger at night.

“I just know that foul play is involved,” Horrocks said.

Horrocks, who is a bartender at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Newport Beach, met Huber four years ago when she was a waitress there. He said she graduated from UC Irvine last year with a major in social sciences and was working as a waitress because the job market was tight.


On the night Huber disappeared, Horrocks said he had to work. Although he got off work early, he said he decided against joining her and Calvert at the El Paso Cantina because he was trying to save money.

“I had gotten some free tickets to the concert, but I couldn’t go. I had to work,” Horrocks said. “I asked my friend Rob (Calvert) to take her to the concert for me.”

Lori Barrett, restaurant manager for the Old Spaghetti Factory, said Huber’s disappearance has upset many of the waitresses, especially those who knew her well.

“Many of them are not driving on the freeways because they’re afraid. But I think the main thing is that this has happened to someone we all know,” Barrett said.

Kathi Rawnsley, 24, a waitress at the restaurant, met Huber more than a year ago, after Rawnsley moved here from Vermont.

“She was the friendliest person here. She helped me feel at home,” Rawnsley said. “Things like this are not supposed to happen to people you know.”