A car belonging to one of two North Carolina women missing since mid-April was found in a heavily wooded area with two bodies inside. Decomposition has made identification difficult, as autopsies are scheduled and the hunt for additional clues remains ongoing.
A roommate of newly engaged lesbian Stephanie Mayorga, 27, and Paige Escalera, 25, filed a missing persons report four days after the two women were last seen on April 15, 2020.
Surveillance footage showed the couple leaving their Wilmington, North Carolina home, driving in a 2013 Dodge dart, which showed two stickers on the back windshield in South Carolina plates, according to Captain Thomas Tillman of the Wilmington Police Department, who described their disappearance as “suspicious.”
Officials said that the two women left behind all of their belongings and their apartment showed no signs of foul play.
Investigators interviewed family members, friends, and coworkers of both of the missing women “in an attempt to gather information where they might have gone and where they went missing,” Captain Tillman said.
“While it’s not unusual for people in their 20s to be spontaneous, it was unusual that the women did not come back home, and also left all their property in the home,” a news release from the Wilmington Police Department stated. “In addition, neither woman has been in touch with any family members since their disappearance.”
Authorities posted a photograph of the couple and a similar vehicle as a reference for anyone who may have spotted the two women or the car on the Wilmington Police Department Facebook page last week.
On Monday, May 4, 2020, Wilmington police officers found the 2013 gray Dodge dart belonging to 25-year-old Paige Escalera in a heavily wooded area. Inside, officers found two bodies. However, both were heavily decomposed and immediate identification was not possible.
“Due to the effects of decomposition, police cannot positively identify the two bodies at this time,” Wilmington police said, adding that autopsies were scheduled.
“The car was found just after 3 p.m. outside the Watermark Marina with two unidentified bodies inside,” said Wilmington police in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The report added that the vehicle was “deep in the woods and covered in vegetation” and investigators believe the car “may have been involved in an extremely high-velocity crash.”
Wilmington Police said they received a report of a high-speed vehicle crash that occurred in mid-April that was in the vicinity where the car with two dead bodies was later found, according to a report by NBC News.
“A caller advised that they saw a car in their rearview mirror heading west on Independence Boulevard, going at a high rate of speed, possibly hitting a wall and then going into the wooded area,” the Wilmington Police Department wrote in a statement.
WECT reported a transcript made by a 911 caller who said: “The car didn’t stop at the stop sign and keeps driving so fast…I was seeing with my back mirror – the car smashed the wall there.”
The color went on to explain what he had seen in his driver’s side mirror: “The car, like disappear[ed] inside the tree.”
Officers from the Wilmington Police Department, fire department, and emergency medical responders were deployed to search the woods using flashlights, but did not find any evidence of an accident nor did they find the missing Dodge dart belonging to one of the victims.
“They were unable to find any sign of a collision and no one with injuries,” the statement by Wilmington Police read.
This mystery leads one to wonder whether the case involves a homicide or if it was a tragic accident. The vehicle was covered in vegetation, was it purposely hidden there? Were the two women driving at an extremely high speed to escape a pursuer? Many questions remain.
Whatever the situation might be, authorities are not releasing any further information on the case this time.
Currently, the authorities have not announced any potential suspects and are urging anyone with information to contact the Wilmington Police Department at (910)-343-3609. If you prefer to make an anonymous tip, you can use tip708.com for anonymity.