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'We're Really Hoping This Has A Happy Ending,' Police Say About 'Unusual' Disappearance Of Engaged Women
While there was no evidence of foul play in their apartment, police say that Stephanie Mayorga and Paige Escalera left without a lot of their belongings.
Police are calling the disappearance of two recently engaged North Carolina women “unusual” and are reaching out to the public for tips.
Stephanie Mayorga, 27, and Paige Escalera, 25, have not been seen since Apr. 15, the Wilmington Police Department said Monday. The pair recently became engaged and moved into an apartment together in Wilmington in March, Escalera’s sister Stevie Jenkins told Oxygen.com. The couple's new roommate filed a missing persons report after not seeing the couple for three days, Captain Thomas Tilmon, the head of Wilmington’s Criminal Investigations Division, said in a Wednesday press conference.
He characterized their disappearance as puzzling.
“It is not unusual for persons of this age group to be spontaneous,” he said. “It was unusual that the roommates [Escalera and Mayorga] didn't come back home and also that they had left all their property in the home.”
He said that video shows the pair leaving their home together on Apr. 15 — the day they went missing — and getting into a gray 2013 Dodge Dart with the South Carolina plate MVS-902. The car has stickers on it as well as damage to its left rear bumper.
“Their departure from the apartment appeared to be entirely normal,” Tilmon said.
Video surveillance showed that they didn’t leave the home with much.
“There were no signs of foul play and much of their property was still in the apartment,” Tilmon said Wednesday. When describing their apartment, he referred to them as “victims.”
Tilmon said local police have gotten assistance from various aerial law enforcement agencies to search areas of interest to locate the car.
"We have no idea where they went," Tilmon said at another presser held Wednesday, local outlet WECT 6 reports. “All the normal investigative techniques we use to find where people have gone and find out their history and what their plans were aren’t bearing out. This is unusual.”
He did say that Escalera has a connection to Spartanburg, South Carolina and it’s possible they are there. He said it’s possible they may also be in the North Carolina counties of Brunswick or Leland.
"It is normal for family to not hear from her, but not her closest friends," Jenkins said of her sister to Oxygen.com. "As I spoke with Stephanie's friends, they say it isn't normal at all that they don't hear from Stephanie.”
Tilmon said Wednesday that a phone search revealed mostly normal activity. Since they vanished, he said it doesn't appear they have been reaching out to anyone. He is urging anyone with information to reach out to them and for people to keep a look out for the women.
“It’s very important that we find them,” Tilmon said. “The investigation has been extensive, trying to figure out who they’re connected to and where they went. We’re working all those leads to try and find them and we’re really hoping this has a happy ending.”
Escalera has large tattoos on both arms, including one of a skull and the word "Laila," and a beauty mark on her right cheek, according to her sister. Mayorga has a small wrist tattoo. It appears that both could have tattoos on their ring fingers as well.
Mayorga was seen leaving her home wearing a black Nike sweatshirt with the slogan “Just Do It” and black leggings with white stripes. She had on black Nike shoes. Escalera was wearing a gray zip-up sweatshirt with white pull strings and a white zipper. She was also wearing black leggings and black tennis shoes with a white stripe.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Wilmington Police Department at (910)-343-3620. Tilmon said if anyone sees the Dodge Dart, to immediately call 911.