Search parties refuse to give up on missing South Bend woman

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A grassroots search party continues to scour the wooded areas of South Bend in hopes of locating Alma Del Real, 22. Del Real was last seen April 12, 2015 at around 3:30 a.m. after leaving a night club with a male friend.

Her cellphone last pinged Sunday before it was either shut off or died and no one reportedly has seen or heard from Del Real since.

Del Real's disappearance is on the forefront of friends and family members' minds. Searches are organized once, sometimes twice a day in the outskirts of South Bend.

Flyers, written in both Spanish and English, are plastered on telephone poles and in business.

But the search for Del Real is most noticeable on social media. A Facebook group, dedicated to finding Del Real has over 17,000 members with multiple posts per hour.

It's through social media that much of the search effort is coordinated.

"We've been out here, me along with many people that are here to help, just out here every day since, just searching different areas of South Bend, trying to find any source of evidence," said Eli Cantu, a friend of Del Real's who saw her the evening before she disappeared.

"We realize this might be a useless strategy, but we're trying to cover everything we can to eliminate all of the possibilities that could've happened," Cantu added.

At this point, Cantu and others organizing the search parties are waiting for more information from investigators.

Cantu said he was sitting just a few bar stools down from Del Real at Studio Rumba 305 Saturday night, just hours before she went missing. He noticed she was drinking heavily with a male friend but didn't think anything of it at the time.

Friday, Michiana Crime Stoppers announced an outside entity contributed $5,000 as a reward for anyone with information leading to the solving of this mystery.

Lt. Cindy Kilgore described the community-based search efforts as "extraordinary."

"Sometimes it can be a hindrance because if there ends up being a crime scene evidence can be trampled on, but the reality is, we are limited by our numbers here on the police department and sometimes, in cases like this, it's great to have the community effort assisting us," Kilgore explained.

Investigators believe Spanish-speaking members of the community may have additional information about Del Real's disappearance but have not stepped forward because of either the language barrier or fear of their immigration status.

Kilgore said those shouldn't be concerns.

Anyone can call Michiana Crime Stopper's anonymous tip line and provide their information, now a Spanish-speaking officer will call back to follow up on any leads.