Antonio and Begoña on the day of her communion many years ago and then just a few days ago when they were reunited. DM
Woman finally tracks down her father in Spain after tirelessly searching for him for 20 years
Family reunion

Woman finally tracks down her father in Spain after tirelessly searching for him for 20 years

Begoña's dad was last seen on 17 April 2004 when he was down on his luck after going through a divorce and then attending the funeral of his best friend. His daughter had almost given up hope of ever seeing him again...

Ana del Castillo


Monday, 25 March 2024, 16:58


Begoña Moncayo last Thursday (21 March) finally received the phone call she had been dreaming of for the past two decades. On the other end of the phone, a National Police officer informed the 37-year-old resident of Reinosa in Cantabria that her father, who was last seen on 17 April 2004 in Bilbao after attending the funeral of his best friend, had been located.

Begoña has been searching tirelessly for her father, Antonio, during this whole period. "Every month I wrote him a message and posted it on Facebook to see if it could somehow reach him," said the Cantabrian woman who works as a social worker at the San Francisco residence foundation.

"I took a DNA test recently and I thought they were going to tell me that my father was dead," Begoña said. But instead, the policeman gave her the address that led to the house where her father lived, in Caparroso, a village of 2,000 inhabitants in Navarre.

After processing what she had just heard and controlling her emotions, Begoña got into the car - together with her mother and her partner - input the address in her GPS and drove towards it. Once she arrived at the destination and rang the doorbell, a woman appeared and told Begoña her father had gone out for coffee and would return shortly.

Too nervous to wait, she started walking and spotted him walking towards her. "I saw him head-on and he recognised me instantly. He shouted 'My beautiful daughter!', we hugged each other and started crying," Begoña said, still with a lump in her throat. "I never expected to see my father again," she said. "We were very nervous, we didn't know what to say to each other after so long, but I didn't care, I just wanted to hug him. I told him that he is the grandfather of two beautiful children and he apologised to me. He told me he knew I would find him," she added.

Family photograph of Antonio and Begoña, when she was a child
Family photograph of Antonio and Begoña, when she was a child DM

17 April 2004

Antonio Moncayo, with three children, worked for more than a decade in a factory in Lutxana (Barakaldo). The divorce and the loss of his best friend plunged him into a deep depression that made him disappear. Antonio ended up on the street, sleeping among cardboard boxes, without any documents and absolutely lost.

The last time they saw him, as the poster made by SOS Desaparecidos three years ago showed, was on 17 April 2004, the day he went to his best friend's funeral.

"Begoña contacted us to tell us about the case and all the obstacles she was encountering to find her father's whereabouts. She told us that her mother and aunt had filed a missing person report (because she was a minor at the time), that she was still looking for him and that they were not collecting DNA samples," pointed out Nerea Cachorro, head of SOS Desaparecidos in Cantabria, who passed the story on to her superiors so the president Joaquín Amills could ask the National Centre for Missing Persons to check the genetic profile.

"We are all very excited about the news. He didn't know they were looking for him and Begoña was messaging us on her way to Navarre, telling us that she was close to seeing her father again," Cachorro said.

Mourning process

When a family member disappears there is a mourning process that goes through different phases such as grief, anger at feeling abandoned, sadness, hope or resignation. When Antonio disappeared, his children were very young. "My siblings have almost no memories of him," said Begoña, the eldest daughter - but she was 17 years old at the time and had been left without a father figure. "I could have been angry, because he abandoned me, but after knowing everything he went through I am incapable of judging him."

In his first conversation after two decades of silence, last Thursday, Antonio told SUR, without going into painful details, that he had been living rough in Navarre, and did not know how to get back on his feet. "That was until a family took him in 15 years ago. They found him on a bench in a very bad state. He hadn't eaten for a long time. Now he lives with them and they give him work," his daughter said, who added that the same day they met she wanted to take her father back to Cantabria. While he couldn't make the journey that day, he will visit Reinosa soon to meet his grandchildren.

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