Ten days after their daughter disappeared, Nelida and Alberto Rivera of East Harlem are devastated.
“I don’t know what else to do,” sobbed the girl’s mother, “This is too much. I can’t do this no more.”
While she may look older, Noemi Rivera is only 12 years old. She was last seen in Morningside Heights last Monday, on West 109th Street between Manhattan and Columbus. She went to school then walked a block away to her grandmother’s apartment.
Evelyn Perez, says there was nothing different about her granddaughter that day. Noemi came and went like she always does. “She was very happy, very happy. And she just walked out the door and I just told her, I would see her tomorrow and that was the last time I saw my granddaughter.”
Around 5:30pm that night, Noemi left her grandmother’s apartment and her normal routine would be to walk down West 109th toward Manhattan and grab a bus across town to go back home. Her parents normally pick her up at that bus stop but on that day, last Monday, she wasn’t there.
“I waited for her, like 35 buses passed, nothing, nothing. My husband came down, we waited, five more buses passed, nothing. We knew, we felt it in our hearts something was wrong,” said Noemi’s mother Nelida.
Her parents reported her missing.
“Her things are just the same way she left it,” said Nelida as she showed us her daughter’s room, adding, “Her clothes, everything, her bed is same way she left it, her quilt, sneakers, everything.”
Police say they initially designated her as a runaway based on written messages Noemi supposedly sent to family members via Facebook, saying, she was never coming home.
Her parents think someone else is writing those messages.
“It is not her I know it,” said Nelida, shaking her head.
Family members have spent every day since November 26th, posting hundreds of flyers but they have not produced any leads. Instead, they say, they got threatening phone calls from people demanding ransom.
“They ask for $10,000 then $50,000, then the stuff they say is so disgusting,” said Nelida. “It’s a little girl, just a little girl! She still plays with dolls.”
The NYPD says Noemi’s case is now with the Missing Persons Unit and they are actively investigating it.
Noemi’s father Alberto told investigators he believes his daughter is being held against her will and they both fear the worst, especially with how much time has gone by.
If you know anything about Noemi’s whereabouts, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.