The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Missing mother planned to study education at CSUN

Family and friends of a missing 25-year-old Simi Valley mother, who planned to attend CSUN this fall, hired a private investigator to find her.

Authorities called off their search for Renee Fox on June 28 after search dogs lost her scent. Fox has been missing since June 24, when her car broke down on a remote road near the town of Independence in Inyo County. She walked eight miles through Mazourka Canyon, dropping her belongings along the way, including her purse with $900 inside.

Fox’s family and friends remain optimistic that Fox will be found.

Judith Cairns, Fox’s mother, said she always smiled and was polite to those she met.

Cairns said Fox did not appear upset the last time she saw her June 21, the day before Fox drove north through the Owens Valley.

“She was so cute (the last time I saw her),” Cairns said. “Her hair was in five pigtails and she was all smiles. She drove past my house and she honked at me. She told me she was taking a friend to work, which was not too far from where I lived.”

Cairns said Fox usually encounters trouble navigating through Simi Valley.

The family does not know why Fox’s car was found near the town of Independence.

Cairns said Fox could have gone for a drive in an attempt to think about some recent problems. Fox filed for divorce from her husband before she went missing.

“She might’ve been upset and just took a drive to calm down,” Cairns said. “She was on her way home when she lost her way. Her car got stuck (in Mazourka Canyon), so she started walking to town and then she disappeared.”

Fox is now listed as a national missing person by the FBI. Cairns said the family has hired Tye Atwater as a private investigator to search for Fox.

“(Atwater) is constantly on it,” said Reese Somes, Fox’s brother. “He’s motivated and working with the local detectives when he can.”

Cairns said she was in the hospital a week ago from kidney failure due to stress.

Reese and his wife, Tracey, spent days searching the Owens Valley for Fox when she first turned up missing.

Tracey said Beth Holloway Twitty, the mother of Natalie Holloway, the Alabama teen missing from Aruba since May of 2005, contacted Tracey July 12 to offer support and other resources. Members of the Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team will now aid in the search.

“The thing we have in common is the search and rescue team,” Tracey said. “The same rescue team that searched for Natalee Holloway in Aruba will be searching for Renee.”

Cairns said Fox, who recently graduated Pierce College, wanted to be a primary schoolteacher.

“She’s so determined,” Cairns said. “She was a working mother who took care of her child and went to school.”

Cairns said nerve damage sustained from several years of typing at an insurance job, was not enough to keep Fox from finishing school.

“It hurt her to carry her books,” Cairns said. “I was surprised she continued to go to school.”

Linda Romig, Fox’s aunt, said Fox, who has a 5-year-old son, Eric, was excited about pursuing her studies at CSUN.

“Renee always dreamed and desired to go to CSUN,” Romig said. “She’s very patient with children. She is incredible interacting with her son. She would make a great school teacher.”

Fox has three older brothers: David, 41, Reese, 40 and Eric, who died at 28.

As the only girl of four children, Cairns could not help buying Fox everything she wanted.

“She was spoiled, but not spoiled,” Cairns said. “She had everything, but she wasn’t a brat.”

Cairns said Fox had a bright childhood and enjoyed bedtime stories and playing soccer. She took piano lessons at a young age and became a very skilled player, in addition to singing and playing the guitar.

Even as an adult, Fox’s family refers to her as “Nee Nee,” short for Renee.

Romig said growing up, Fox never appeared to be negative about life.

“She had a fun-loving and optimistic attitude,” Romig said. “The glass was always half full, not empty.”

As a child, Fox was detail-oriented and liked her hair and clothing a certain way, Cairns said.

“She was so funny,” Cairns said. “She was only five or six, but her socks had to be just perfect and her hair had to be smooth on her side ponytail. She was popular in high school because she was a nice girl and I kept her dressed perfectly.”

That attention to detail stayed with Fox into adulthood. When it comes to celebrating, family members said they could always count on Fox to be in the spirit and come through with holiday preparations.

“She’s really into family,” said Tracey, sister-in-law of the missing woman. “She would have the family gather around together and that’s hard to do.”

Whether it is coloring eggs, making baskets for Easter or making a birthday special, Fox participated.

“She has never missed a birthday,” Cairns said. “Every year, she buys a card, a cake and is on your doorstep.”

Reese said she always bought presents when visiting family and friends and is contentious of taking care of others.

“For Mother’s Day, when all the mothers are sitting around the table, Renee makes sure every mother has a present, card or something,” Reese said.

Fox is dependable in other times of need.

When Cairns became sick, Fox took off work for an entire week to care for her mother.

When their father died, Fox was the first person by Reese’s side, he said. When her older brother, Eric, was in the hospital before his death, Fox never left his side, Reese said.

Fox’s family relied on her for a home-cooked meal.

While she attended Pierce, she made sure dinner was on the table, Cairns said.

“She always makes things from scratch, never frozen,” Cairns said.

In addition to cooking, Cairns said the 5 foot 4 inch blonde is also a huge animal lover.

She has raised Duke, her Great Dane since he was puppy.

Fox’s family maintains hope that Fox will return and be reunited with her son and puppy.

“She’s just so great in every direction,” Cairns said. “Nobody could ever fill Renee’s shoes.”

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