What happened to Lacey Buenfil? Florida mother missing for more than a decade

What happened to Lacey Buenfil? The Florida mom has been missing for more than a decade and her disappearance remains unsolved.

Buenfil, a mother of three, was last seen on surveillance video in 2011 at a gas station in Lake County.

"I just absolutely fell in love with her. We spent the better part of 10 years together," said Korey Singletary, reminiscing about his first love. "She was my absolute best friend in the world."

The two were high school sweethearts. They grew up together – and also grew apart.

"Especially when you get together that young and, you know, you start going through the changes of life and having kids and this and that, I think we naturally kind of drifted apart," said Singletary.

Months before she disappeared, Buenfil moved out.

"From what we’ve learned, drugs came into her life and had an adverse effect," said Lake County Sheriff's Office detective Dan Conlee. "She started hanging out with characters that were not good for her."

Even though she moved out, Buenfil and Singletary still saw each other constantly and stayed in touch daily. The last time he and their three daughters would see Lacey was Christmas night in 2011.

"You know, the girls gave her all of her presents. I made her a big tray of dinner to go, like a big piece of ham and the potatoes, so she took all that with her when she left, which she had for leftovers for later," Korey said.

Then there was silence. No one heard from or saw Lacey.

Singletary contacted the authorities, and investigators began searching for her. Surveillance video located Buenfil on Dec. 21, 2011 – two days after Christmas – inside a gas station convenience store in Altoona. Standing next to her, investigators say, was a name named Terry McDowell.

"McDowell said that he and Lacey were on one of those fire roads up in Altoona, their vehicle got stuck, he was trying to dig it out, and Lacey decided she was going to walk back to 19," said LCSO detective Conlee. "She vanished, she disappeared, and we’ve searched hundreds of acres."

McDowell has since died and with him, any clues and information to Buenfil whereabouts. Detectives and Singletary believe others around them know what happened to Buenfil.

"A lot of people involved in this case themselves have problems with drugs, run-ins with the law," said Det. Conlee. "It’s difficult to get an accurate and consistent account of what they say."

And at the end of the day, three girls no longer have their mother and her first love – and her family – are left with heartache and a void filled only with questions about her disappearance.

"You have a funeral, you get to go there, you at least get to see kind of the process of what is life," said Singletary, "I feel like that’s a huge part of that healing and that grieving process, and you know, my girls never got that."

Anyone with information on Lacey Buenfil's whereabouts or disappearance are asked to call the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 352-343-9529, or email ColdCase@lcso.org. Anonymous tips can also be submitted to Crimeline at 800-423-8477 (TIPS).