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A car matching the description of one linked with a missing North Carolina couple was found "deep in the woods" with two bodies inside, authorities said.
Due to the “effects of decomposition” Wilmington Police said they have not yet been able to positively identify the bodies inside the vehicle; however, they have confirmed that the car was a grey 2013 Dodge Dart—the same make and model of the car Stephanie Mayorga, 27, and Paige Escalera, 25, were seen getting into on April 15 when they disappeared.
“Just after 3 p.m. Monday, May 4, Wilmington Police found a grey 2013 Dodge Dart deep in the woods off the intersection of Independence Blvd. and River Road,” police said in a statement.
The couple disappeared after leaving their apartment on the night of April 15. Wilmington Police Capt. Thomas Tilmon previously said women's roommate didn't report the pair missing for three days because the roommate was “under the misconception you couldn’t report a missing person until 72 hours had elapsed,” according to the Port City Daily.
Escalera’s sister Stevie Jenkins told Oxygen.com the two had recently gotten engaged and had just moved into the apartment together.
“They had only lived there a week or so before they went missing,” she said.
Police became concerned after realizing that many of the women’s personal belongings had been left behind at their apartment.
“It’s not unusual for persons in this age group to be spontaneous in their behavior. … It wasn’t unusual that they had left without telling the roommate they were leaving, but it was unusual that they didn’t come back home,” Tilmon said at an earlier press conference. “It was also unusual that they had left all their property in their home.”
Earlier Monday, before police announced the car had been found in the woods, the families of the missing women continued to pass out fliers and search for them.
“This is our worst nightmare. We’re just so desperate to see them to come home,” Mayorga’s father Rigo Villafuerte told local station WECT. “We have a lot of dreams for both of them.”
Escalera’s mother Allison Rice also pleaded for anyone who may have information about the missing women to contact authorities.
“Our families are heartbroken,” she said. “We’re each other’s rock right now. We’re together in this right now. We’re family.”
Jenkins told Oxygen.com the disappearance had been particularly devastating because she had just recently reconnected with her sister.
“I am at a loss,” she said after the couple disappeared. “I was just rekindling my relationship with my sister that has not been so well for the last 10 years. For the first time in a long time I felt like I finally had her back.”
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