Severed Foot in Shoe Belonged to Missing Woman

By Lauren DiSanto and David Chang
|  Thursday, Sep 26, 2013  |  Updated 9:15 AM EDT
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Missing Woman's Family Waits for DNA Answer

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Mia Casteing has conflicting emotions after Philadelphia Police say DNA of a severed foot found inside a shoe at the Jersey Shore is a match for her sister, 22-year-old Franchesca Alvarado, who went missing last year.

"It gives me a little bit of peace," Casteing said while in tears. "But it frustrates me."

A fisherman discovered the skeletal remains of a foot inside a size 5 1/2 tennis shoe that had washed ashore back in August at Corson's Inlet State Park in Ocean City. On Wednesday, the family of Alvarado announced on Facebook that the foot belonged to her.

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"It is with deep sadness, pain and heartache that we inform you -- TEAMCHEKA -- the loss of our beloved sister Franchesca Milagros Alvarado," the woman's family wrote on Facebook. "It has been confirmed from the State of New Jersey that the DNA match is our sister."

Philadelphia Police later confirmed this with NBC10.

"I'd rather still be looking for her actually," Casteing said. "Just to keep that hope that maybe she will come home." 

Alvarado left her home on her way to Atlantic City in March 2012 and was never heard from again.

The 22-year-old mom, who friends and family called "Cheka," had plans to start college before her disappearance. Family members say she left her home in the Hunting Park section of the city with a man she was friends with.

NBC10's Luann Cahn talked with the man who took Alvarado to Atlantic City the night she was last seen. He says that Alvarado left him that night and he came home alone.

Loved ones say the hardest part has been trying to explain to Alvarado's 4-year-old daughter that her mother will never come back.

"I kept telling my niece, 'Mommy's working, mommy's gonna come home,'" Casteing said. "Yesterday I had to look at her differently."

No one has been charged in Alvarado's death. Alvarado's family says their focus has now shifted. They believe "Cheka" was murdered and now they want her killer to be brought to justice.

"As a family and for Franchesca we will never stop until we find out exactly what happened," said her sister, Tina Diori.

The family says they will hold a memorial service in her honor next week.

While police have not confirmed that Alvarado was murdered, they continue to investigate and are offering a $25,000 reward to anyone with information about her death.

 


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