Missing Hall County girl: Reward increased to $50K for 12-year-old

The reward for information that leads to the location of missing 12-year-old Maria Gomez-Perez has increased to $50,000.

According to the Hall County Sheriff's Office, the reward money has been raised by anonymous business and community members.

Maria was last seen on May 29 at her home on Westside Drive in Gainesville. The Hall County Sheriff's Office, along with federal Homeland Security, the GBI, FBI, Gainesville Police, and dozens of community members, have been searching for the young teenager.

Authorities believe Maria may have met someone when she left her home. Sheriff Gerald Couch stated that they have thoroughly searched her home, interviewed everyone who lives there several times, examined multiple electronic devices, and distributed thousands of flyers.

"The fact that she’s a child and has been missing for this long is a serious issue," said the sheriff. "There are so many possibilities of where she could be and what could’ve happened to her." 


Sheriff Couch extended his appreciation for the ongoing community support in the effort to bring Maria home.

"As I said last week, someone in the community has that single clue or one piece of information that could lead to finding Maria. I am hopeful the increased reward will prompt that person to come forward," Sheriff Couch said. "Meanwhile, our personnel remain vigilant in their investigation."

To date, investigators with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), in partnership with other local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, have fielded 142 tips in Maria’s case. Many of those tips have been vetted with negative results; others remain under investigation.

HCSO reminds community members that Maria’s appearance may have changed in the last three weeks. Those searching on their own should be very cautious and not conduct their own investigations into Maria’s disappearance, as individual searches could be dangerous for both citizens and Maria. Instead, the sheriff’s office urges anyone with information on Maria’s disappearance to call 770-503-3232 or email intelrequest@hallcounty.org. Individuals with tips may also call 911 or Hall County 911/Central Communications at 770-536-8812. Those offering tips can remain anonymous.

Cybersecurity expert joins hunt for 12-year-old Maria Gomez-Perez 

The disappearance of 12-year-old Maria Gomez-Perez has moved members of the community to action. Sergio Franco, a cybersecurity engineer, has taken an active role in the search. Franco felt a personal connection to the case, imagining himself in Maria’s situation. 

"Whenever a child goes missing, it hurts everybody," said Franco. "I got in Maria’s shoes—what it would be like to be a 12-year-old who was missing, who was taken away from their family." 

Franco has launched a website, HelpFindMaria.com, which aggregates the latest news, provides information on how to volunteer for the search, and offers a place to submit tips. The website also provides contact information for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. 

"I wanted to have all that information available and ready for people to access on the go," Franco explained. "The one thing that I want to come out of all this is to help find Maria." 

For more information or to submit a tip, visit HelpFindMaria.com.