When your child has been missing for more than a year and you have no answers, some bad thoughts can come to mind. For Olga Ortiz, keeping her mind clear of negative thoughts has been a daily struggle ever since her daughter, Melissa Rodriguez, went missing one year ago this month.
"If I could tell you what goes through my mind... sometimes my mind tells me a lot of things, so I try not to go there because it’s crazy things, because I don’t know what’s going on," Ortiz said. "I just ask God to help me with that and it’s really hard. I don’t want to put nothing negative in my mind, I just want to find my daughter."
Rodriguez, who lived in Collingdale, Delaware County, was reportedly headed to Newark, New Jersey to stay with friends on the weekend of April 19, 2013. Supposedly, the last phone call that the then 30-year-old mother of two made that afternoon was to her estranged husband, Jose Rodriguez, alerting him of her planned trip.
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Friends who were waiting for Melissa said she never arrived in Newark. She's been missing ever since.
Ortiz said it would be uncharacteristic of her daughter to go away without communicating with her family, especially her daughters, who are now 8 and 12.
"That’s not like her. She would not just go without her daughters and not keep in touch with her family," she said.
So far, authorities have had little luck finding leads in the case.
Shortly after Melissa went missing, some of her neighbors contacted police and told them that they recalled Melissa's husband, Jose -- whom she was in the process of separating from at the time of her disappearance -- "acting suspiciously" in the backyard of the couple's home.
Police searched Jose's work truck, and brought cadaver dogs and diggers to search for evidence at the home, but came up empty-handed.
After reporting his wife missing, Jose retained criminal defense attorney Michael Diamondstein as his lawyer and reportedly moved to New Jersey with the couple's children.
When asked whether he'd heard from his client recently, Diamondstein offered no comment.
Over the past year, Collingdale Police Department Chief Robert Adams said they haven't had a single new lead in the case.
"There’s no updates, there’s been no movement, there’s been no new information at all," Adams said.
Adams came just shy of calling it a cold case.
"I don’t want to say that and give the family bad hope. It’s just stale right now," he said.
Ortiz said she believes authorities are doing all that they can for her daughter's case.
"I think they're doing the best they can. We're people that we don't have money like that, that we can give up for rewards or nothing like that. So, they're doing what they can," she said.
Last weekend, friends and family of Rodriguez gathered at her former home on Lafayette Avenue in Collingdale for a candlelight prayer vigil. They released balloons into the sky in her memory.
Ortiz called the vigil comforting and peaceful, and she vowed to continue searching for her daughter.
"We prayed, we cried. The sky was just so blue that day; it was so beautiful, it was like a peaceful thing," she said. "I’m not giving up on my child. I won’t stop searching."