It’s been 360 days — just four days shy of a year — since transgender woman Pauline Del Mundo disappeared without a trace from DFW International Airport on her way from her home in Tampa, Fla., to Cozumel, Mexico for vacation. And her family continues to search for their missing sister, hoping they will eventually be able to “bring Pauline home.”
Pauline, 59, is a naturalized American citizen of Asian/Filipino descent who lived in Tampa where she worked as a nursing assistant at a federal veterans hospital. She was on her way to Cozumel for a 10-day vacation, but according to her sisters Yolanda Del Mundo and Lolita Gaviola, during a layover at the DFW airport she changed her mind and decided to go back to Tampa.
Pauline called one of her sisters in Tampa and asked for help in purchasing a ticket to fly back home. But when her sister called backed for flight details, she couldn’t reach Pauline. Her family has not heard from her since.
According to information sent to Dallas Voice by Yolanda Del Mundo, video footage from cameras at the airport offered some clues. The videos show that Pauline left Terminal C at 10:30 p.m., walking two-and-a-half miles up International Parkway, away from the airport and toward the south service road. She walked by a valet gate, going in the direction of the airport’s warehouse district at 1:48 a.m., then walked across the street from the warehouses and sat down on the curb.
Pauline was seen sitting on a curb on the south end of the official warehouse district near the intersection of South 20th Ave. and 5 Airfield until 3:52 a.m. when she abruptly stood up and walked away, going around the corner headed east. Video footage shows Pauline walking around a DFW Airport sign, with the sign then blocking her from view.
That was the last time Pauline was seen.
Yolanda Del Mundo said in an email to Dallas Voice this week that the warehouse area where Pauline was last seen on video is near the main north/south road through the airport, and while technically still airport property, that area is leased to different private companies.
The intersection where she was last seen is surrounded by construction ditches, ravines, swampy areas, a small lake and lots of wooded, brushy areas that are “hard to search with a small number of people,” according to a case advocate with Malaya Movement Northern Texas, a human rights group that has been working with the family over the last year.
The Malaya Movement also helped bring in the Community United Effort for Missing Persons, a nationwide, non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to finding missing persons recently, Yolanda Del Mundo said. CUE recently conducted a physical search, with 13 Texas-based volunteers, led by CUE’s Texas deputy director, Crystal Fields, searching the area where Pauline was last seen. That search found no traces of the missing woman, but CUE plans to conduct another search of the area next month, including areas within the periphery of the airport property outside the terminal where Pauline was seen
In the meantime, Pauline Del Mundo’s family remains “puzzled and disturbed” by their sister’s disappearance, “at a loss [as to] whether she was assaulted, kidnapped, murdered or mutilated,” or still alive somewhere, “walking aimlessly as a homeless person on the streets of Fort Worth or Dallas, an area unfamiliar to her,” Yolanda Del Mundo said.
The family, she added, continues ”praying and hoping that she will be found safe in the face of this pandemic, in spite of the mental issues she [was] suffering [from] at the time she vanished.”
Pauline Del Mundo is 59 years old. She is of Asian/Filipino descent and is about 5’6” and of medium build. Yolanda Del Mundo noted that her sister’s legal name is Paulino Norberto Del Mundo Jr., and that ID documents she may have been carrying would still show that name.
Anyone with information that might help bring Pauline home is asked to call the DFW Airport Police Department at 972-973-3553, CUE at 910-343-1131 or the CUE Center 24-hour tip line at 910-232-1687.
— Tammye Nash