Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Doreen Laws-Espinosa

Real Names: Anamarie Hudson and Martha Carota
Case: Lost Siblings
Location: Salinas, California
Date: 1951


Details: When Doreen Espinosa was just three, her father abandoned the family. By the time she was a young woman, she had been moved from one relative to another. She longed for a stable, happy life. When she became pregnant in fall 1952, the man she was seeing walked out on her. She was devastated and feared that she would be thrown out of her home. After that, however, she began dating Francis Laws. She was able to hide her pregnancy from him and did not tell him that on July 25, 1953, she gave birth to a daughter and immediately gave her up for adoption.
Four months later, in November 1953, Doreen and Francis were married in Salinas, California. Over the next few years, they had three sons, Ric, Mike, and Bryan. In 1962, the marriage ended. Sadly, Doreen was on her own again. She had no idea that her "secret" daughter, Debra Jaynes, knew who she was and would start looking for her one day.
When she was in her early twenties, Debra began searching for Doreen. She made a habit of asking almost anyone she met if they knew her. Finally, a coworker's aunt, Tillie Ramirez, said that she had known her for years. She revealed to Debra that she was not Doreen's only daughter and that she had given another one up for adoption in 1951. Within a few months, Debra had met her, Ric, Mike, and Bryan. She and Ric had an especially close bond. She asked Doreen about her sister, but Doreen claimed that Tillie was wrong. When she asked about her birthfather, Doreen was evasive. She claimed that she couldn't remember him, but Debra felt that she was lying.
In February 1997, Doreen passed away. She never admitted the existence of another child and may have hoped that her secrets would go with her to her grave. Ironically, her death would reveal a new secret. When a neighbor called 911 to report her death, the dispatcher who took the call was Edie Henderson. Her husband, Robert, was another of Doreen's secrets; she had given him up for adoption as well. For years, he had known that "Doreen Laws" was his birthmother's name, but he did not want to contact her for fear of rejection.
Sadly for Robert, it was now too late. However, he was happy to reunite with his siblings, especially Bryan, as they had already known each other since elementary school. By that time, another bombshell was dropped: Doreen had another secret child. Robert's adoptive mother told him that Doreen had given birth to another daughter in 1963 and had also given her up for adoption. Robert and the newest sister had been conceived after Doreen and Francis had gotten divorced. Ric believes that Doreen's changes in weight allowed her to have more children without anyone even noticing.
Doreen's children were astounded; she apparently had a total of seven. She had two daughters before she married Francis, three sons with him, and another son and daughter after their divorce. Now they are searching for two remaining siblings: Doreen's daughter born in 1951 and the other daughter born in 1963.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 29, 1998 episode.

Results: Solved. After the broadcast, the daughter born in 1951, Martha Carota, was finally located in Aptos, California. She was reunited with her siblings in January 1998.
In June 1998, an independent researcher helped Doreen's children locate the daughter who was born in November 1963, Anamarie Hudson. She had grown up in Salinas, California, not far from Ric, Mike, and Bryan. Shortly thereafter, she was reunited with her siblings.
However, Doreen's children were shocked to discover that she had given birth to an eighth child. In 2000, after determining the identity of Martha's father, the Laws learned through her adoption papers about an older brother born in 1950, Richard Gonzales. He was located by the same investigator that found Anamarie. There was a second reunion filmed by Unsolved Mysteries, but it never aired. Sadly, Richard has since passed away, but not before all of Doreen's children met and formed a bond.