Yvonne Baldelli, 42, left California last September for a new life in Panama's province of Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean coast.
Her family says she stayed in constant contact with them via e-mail, but then the communication stopped. They became even more concerned when she did not show up for a reunion last January.
According to family, she was newly divorced and had been laid off from her job. Her 36-year-old boyfriend, Brian Brimager, has been termed a person of interest by Panamanian investigators according to the Panama-Guide. Brimager, a former Marine, reportedly travelled with Baldelli.
No one has seen Baldelli or her dog, Georgie Mae, since late November. This week, her family joined officials in Panama to search for her and has launched a Facebook site in an effort to help locate her.
"It's a sad thing you know, I think all you can really do is pray for the family and for her. Hopefully she's still alive," said San Clemente resident Jake Yates.
Brimager returned to the U.S. in December and remarried another woman, Kristin Werkhoven, according to a wedding registry. Brimager met his Werkhoven in 2004 and had a daughter together six years later. They lived separate lives for a time. He went to Panama to "detox from the Marine Corps."
Baldelli's family is asking people to watch out for her necklace or any belongings that might lead them to her. In a statement, Baldelli's father, James Faust, said:
"The family has been experiencing a living nightmare for quite a few months, and we continue to appeal to anyone who knows absolutely anything about Yvonne's disappearance to come forward. No matter how small it may seem, the information that you give may be what gives our family some peace in this on-going horror."
Panamanian authorities are offering a $3,000 reward for information. Brimager could not be reached for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.