It has been eight months since Melissa Rodriguez went missing after leaving her home in Collingdale, Delaware County, Pa. While many are looking forward to celebrating the winter holidays with family and friends, for Melissa's mother, Olga Ortiz, the holidays serve as a harsh reminder that her daughter still has not been found.
"It's hard for me right now because I don’t know what happened to my daughter; I don’t have no answers for nothing," Ortiz said. "I don’t have no plans for the holiday. To me, it’s not gonna be a holiday at all without her."
Melissa Rodriguez, a 31-year-old mother of two, disappeared on April 19, shortly after dropping her daughters off at school. Her estranged husband, Jose Luis Rodriguez, then told police that the last time he'd spoken to Melissa she told him she was going to Newark, N.J., to spend the weekend with friends. According to those friends, Melissa never arrived.
While Jose was never labeled a suspect in the case, according to police, in the months following Melissa's disappearance, neighbors alerted Collingdale police about what they believed was suspicious behavior.
According to police, neighbors said they'd seen Jose digging in the couple's yard in the middle of the night around the time of Melissa's disappearance. Collingdale police later did their own digging in the yard and brought cadaver dogs to search for evidence in the disappearance, but came up empty-handed.
Collingdale Police Chief Robert Adams says the department is still pursuing the case but said they have no new leads or clues as to where Melissa might be.
Adams says Melissa's mother contacts him often to check for updates in the case.
"The mother calls once or twice a week. The husband has never called us. Not once," Adams said.
The couple was in the process of a separation at the time of Melissa's disappearance, according to Jose Rodriguez as well as members of Melissa's family.
For Ortiz, getting through the holidays this year will be even tougher because she says she has not been allowed to see her two granddaughters. Ortiz says she went to family court with Jose a few months ago and was granted liberal visitation rights to see Melissa's 7- and 11-year-old daughters, but said she's been unable to contact Jose since the visitation was granted.
"It's hard because my granddaughters, they’ve always been around me. We had that close bond, you know, a family thing; and it hurts me a lot to not be able to see them during the holidays," she said.
"He was supposed to bring the girls so I could see them anytime I wanted but he hasn’t contacted me at all and I have no way to contact him."
Jose hired Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Diamondstein shortly after police began the investigation into her disappearance in April. Diamondstein would not confirm whether he's spoken to his client in recent months or whether Jose, had in fact been keeping his daughters away from their grandmother.
Ortiz says her daughter and son, Melissa's siblings, and her immediate family have been her support system. Because of them, she says she still has a little faith left.
"I hope and pray to hear something, anything. I mean, I know it would be a miracle to hear anything, but anything would give me some hope," she said. "I still believe, if anything was done, there’s a God up there and everything is gonna come to the light. So, I’m still being hopeful. I still have some faith."
Melissa is described as a Hispanic female standing 5-foot-4-inches tall and weighing around 130 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a yellow flowered dress and glasses.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Collingdale Police at 610-586-0502.