Franchesca Alvarado left her Hunting Park apartment for Atlantic City on March 13, a trip she made often, according to her sister Tina.
Alvarado dropped her three-year-old daughter off at a friend's house and
set out for the shore town with a male acquaintance, a man her family
says she didn't know well.
Days passed. Alvarado's sisters figured the young mother had simply decided to extend her stay.
Then the man returned. Alvarado did not. Her family filed a missing persons report on March 17.
"She was supposed to come back later on the next day," Tina said. "You know, you go to Atlantic City for the day and you’re expected to come back."
While her travel partner allegedly claimed that Alvarado left without him, her family isn't buying it. "Franchesca didn’t have a car. He was her ride there and it’s very mysterious," Tina said.
Family and neighbors said the disappearance is uncharacteristic. Alvarado had recently decided to enroll in community college to study business so she could better support her daughter. She called Tina on a daily basis for years, even more frequently after Tina became pregnant.
"There was so much we were going to do," Tina said. "She was supposed to help me plan a baby shower. She bought her daughter Easter clothes. When you’re preparing to spend the holiday with your child and are excited about it, you don’t just go disappear and not call anybody.
"Her daughter is her whole world and [Alvarado] hasn’t spoken to her or the person she left her with. It breaks my heart when her daughter’s always talking about her mom," Tina said. "There's nothing that you can say."
Now a community is rallying around the cause. A group of 30 or more family members and friends have been traveling to Atlantic City every two days and spending nights walking the boardwalk, handing out fliers and scrutinizing every passerby. They created a reward fund. They staged a rally outside the 25th District and planned to gather near Alvarado's apartment yesterday evening.
Philadelphia police could not provide any details about the investigation yesterday, but a detective did say the Special Investigations Unit is now handling the case.
"The not knowing is what's going to kill us, because it's been so many days," Tina said. "When somebody's missing, you live every day without knowing what's happened to them. Even if she's not okay, even if she's not alive, if we can just find her. Because who can live with looking for a loved one every day without knowing what happened to them? It's horrible how can you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining, it's beautiful and then night comes and it's another night -- another night that she hasn't come home."
Sister says Alvarado mislabeled
The family was further pained when reports surfaced last week claiming that Alvarado was a sex worker and when some fliers, which her relatives claim were distributed by police, implied that Alvarado was depressed.
"People really believe she was an escort or that she was depressed or sad," Tina said. "She just went to Atlantic City for the day – I don’t know where they got she was an escort. She's never done that in her life, she doesn’t have criminal record and she's not a drug addict. ... I just didn't want people to think she was somebody that was sad and walked away from her life."
Anyone with information is asked to call East Detectives at 215-686-3250.