Family and friends of a missing Mount Vernon woman say they're concerned police waited a week to follow leads and aren't devoting enough resources to the case.
Today marks the 11th day since 32-year-old Gizela Andrade has gone missing. Andrade is four months pregnant and is a diabetic. Although health sources say diabetes is "highly individual," going without insulin for several days can be fatal.
The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native left her home Saturday night, Sept. 25, after a fight with her boyfriend and spoke briefly by phone with her twin sister, Gabriela Larison of New Rochelle. Andrade told Larison she was going to take a drive in her white 2010 Toyota Venza to think things over.
She hasn't been heard from since. Larison tried to file a missing person report with the Mount Vernon Police Department at 7 a.m. the next morning, but said she was was forced to wait until later that night until a mandatory 24-hour reporting period had elapsed.
New York doesn't have a 24-hour wait time for missing person reports, and it's not clear if the family misunderstood police, or whether detectives used discretion in gauging the credibility of the report. The 24-hour wait period is a "myth" credited to police procedurals and Hollywood crime dramas.
As of early Tuesday morning, Andrade was not listed in a database operated by the National Center for Missing Adults. Like many police departments, Mount Vernon police and the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services have direct links to resources for missing children, but no information on reporting missing adults.
Since Andrade has gone missing, Larison, her husband and several friends have plastered Westchester and New York City with fliers. They've taken shifts driving around looking for Andrade, they've checked local airports and they've reached out to everyone they know.
On Monday, the family received an update from police – they'd checked Andrade's Facebook page, but the missing woman hasn't logged in since she disappeared. She also hasn't used her bank account or credit cards, worrying signs as the days stretch on.
Police asked Larison for permission to access her sister's cell phone and text records "and she was very upset because they did not ask her sooner," family friend Luciana Guedes said.
"The police said only now can they start to take things more seriously. Unbelievable," Guedes said. "It's been a week and two days, and nothing."
Andrade has lived in the U.S. for more than seven years and works as a nanny. Larison is her only relative in this country, but their mother remains home in Brazil, worried over the news.
The twin sisters spoke "every two hours" by phone, especially since Andrade became pregnant, Larison said.
That's why she believes police need to follow every angle as quickly as they can, despite police Chief Barbara Duncan's statement last week that she doesn't believe there was foul play.
"She would call me and say, 'I'm all right.' I don't believe she'd let me worry about her this much," Larison said. "She would never do that to me. She knows how much I worry about her."
A call to Mount Vernon police on Friday hasn't been returned, and on Monday police said the supervisor of the detective division wasn't in the office, and no one else was cleared to comment on the case.
Mount Vernon police have issued a press release. We've reprinted it here:
The Mount Vernon Police Department is currently
investigating the disappearance of Gizela Andrade, a 32 year
old resident of Mt. Vernon, NY. Gizela was reported
missing by family members on Sunday 09/26/10. She was
last seen leaving her residence on Saturday evening at
approximately 7:00pm in a 2010 White Toyota Venza
bearing NY Plates EWX-3056.
Family and friends say that it is unusual for her to leave and
not contact her family. Gizela also suffers from diabetes and
is (4) four months pregnant. Gizela is light skin,
approximately 5'2", 110 pounds, black hair and brown eyes.
She was last seen wearing beige pants and a white & yellow
Anyone with information regarding Ms. Andrade or her whereabouts is urged to contact the Mount Vernon Police Department at (914)665-2500 or Detective Division at (914) 665-2510.