Community creates memorial where missing woman’s car was found

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police hope forensic evidence will lead to more answers after Monday’s discovery of a car belonging to a missing woman. They identities of the two bodies found inside the car have still not been released.

After investigators spent the better part of the day Tuesday out at the scene, people stopped by throughout the day Wednesday to pay their respects.

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Several people set up a memorial for Stephanie Mayorga and Paige Escalera near where police believe that car crashed into the woods. They also tied ribbons around some of the trees where they believe the car broke through.

Police say the car was registered to Escalera. Although there’s no confirmation the bodies belong to the two women, the search for them has grown very close to a lot of peoples’ hearts.

“They were people, and they were beautiful souls, and they deserve this,” Carla McCall, who helped search for the women, said. “It just touched my heart when I heard about the story.”



McCall and several others set up the memorial Wednesday morning. The women have been missing since mid-April.

“It just broke our heart,” Cassandra Cruz, who also helped set up the memorial, said. “This is not what we wanted at all.”

The search for Mayorga and Escalera captured the hearts of people all around the community, whether they knew the women or not.

“We would go out on foot searching all areas of Wilmington around where they went missing,’ McCall said. “And because of that, we just followed the case so closely. It’s a beautiful memory for two beautiful girls.”

When people found out the car found in the wooded area was registered to Escalera, they wanted to come out and do something to honor the women.

“Just trying to come out here to keep their lives going,” Cruz said. “They might not be here in person, but they’re here spiritually.”

Monday afternoon, police found the car in the woods outside Watermark Marina with two bodies inside.

“I don’t know how to put the words to say to them because I’m not in their position,” Cruz said. “But all I can do is just pray and let them take it one day at a time.”

With so many unanswered questions about, people wanted to find a way to honor the two young women and their families.

“It’s love. It’s an act of love and kindness from the community,” McCall said.

Police are waiting on the results of an autopsy to confirm whether the bodies belong to these two women.