Melina Cottrell and Jessica Flores are two mothers and friends who went missing while together.
Now family, friends and law enforcement agencies have mounted a concerted effort to find them. Flores is from South Chicago Heights, Illinois. Cottrell is from Gary, Indiana. “I have reason to believe that my sister’s in imminent danger,” Mady Perez, Flores’s sister, told CBS Chicago.
Update: Cottrell has now been found alive, but Flores is still missing. Drew Carter III is accused of kidnapping and murder charges in relation to her disappearance, however, CBS Chicago reported.
Jessica Flores is 36, and Melina Cottrell is 26. Gary Cmdr. Jack Hamady said to NWITimes.com: “We are assisting in actively looking for both women.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Flores’s Car Was Found Abandoned With Fire Damage After the Women Were Seen in a Facebook Live Video
The last sign of the women: A Facebook Live video one of them posted to social media. In it, they were together “during the day and night before going missing,” ABC 7 reported.
Compounding the mystery, the vehicle Flores was driving was found on Chicago’s South Side “with some of her belongings and fire damage,” the television station reported. However, there was no sign of the missing women. According to the television station, Flores’s cell phone last pinged in Gary, Indiana. NWITimes.com reported that the car belonged to Flores’s boyfriend.
“[The car] was set on fire partially, and they found some of her belongings in there but no signs of foul play,” said Flores’ sister told CBS Chicago.
The Gary Police Department in Indiana has asked for the public’s assistance in finding Melina Cottrell. The South Chicago Heights Police Department shared a news story about both missing women.
“Community Assistance Needed: The Gary Police Department is asking for the community’s assistance in locating Melina Cottrell. Melina was last seen on Sunday February 24, 2019 and has not been seen or heard from since that time,” police wrote in a Facebook post in which they also shared Melina’s photo.
“Investigators have exhausted all leads and are reaching out to the community for help. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Melina Cottrell is urged to contact Sergeant Mark Salazar at 219-881-1209 or the Crime Tip Line at 866-CRIME-GP.”
A cousin of Jessica wrote on Facebook: “She’s been missing and it’s been reported to the police that she was being threatened and now she’s no where to be found.” Police have not confirmed the account of a threat.
2. The Family of Jessica Flores Is Praying for Her Return
Jessica’s family is distraught and seeking answers. Adela Pagan wrote a lengthy message on Facebook. It reads:
Good morning Heavenly Father, and thank you for waking me to pray and help to bring my sweet Jessica home. Please hear our prayers Father. Please help the Authorities locate and bring my daughter home to us safe and sound.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen!
Love note to you Jessica Mireya Flores my baby girl. I’ve not really slept well since you’ve been missing. My beautiful baby girl your brothers, sisters, family, friends, myself and your bff who’s in Colorado praying and waiting for your safe return home. We love you and we won’t give up or stop til you are back home in our loving arms. My beautiful sweet baby girl, you’ve always been strong. I need more than ever that you be strong and pray to our heavenly father this nightmare ends soon. I asked God and all our archangels to surround you in their light and protect you from these monster’s whom I know it’s just a matter of time and they will be held accountable for the crimes they have committed agaisnt you and others. They’re Earth Demons causing pain and Destruction everywhere they go. Stay strong in your Faith and believe with all your heart my love, that God will bring you back to us soon. Don’t give up, because we sure will never give up on you and bringing you back home. God bless you my love and always remember you are loved my beautiful sweet Heaven! ??
Pagan also wrote, “Prayers for my beautiful daughter Jessica Mireya Bella Flores has been MISSING SINCE SUNDAY NIGHT February 24, 2019 Her where abouts are unknown please inbox me if, you have any information on her!!! My family and I want and need her back home safe! I am her mother, I am desperate and I believe in God and I am holding on tight to my faith, because I feel I can’t breathe.”
Jessica Brown wrote on Facebook, “My beautiful sister I promise you I won’t rest until you’re home! We have been through so much shit together and I want you to know right now I’m with you as you have always been with me ! Last Saturday you called me to make me laugh sending me videos of the construction in front of your house and you narrating and us laughing at the workers. I love you so much and I have always admired your strength. If there is anyone I can call a warrior it’s you ! You always knew how to make me laugh and lift me up . I’m calling on all the angels to surround you right now.”
3. Loved Ones Are Searching for Melina Cottrell
A relative of Cottrell posted that she was missing on Facebook and wrote, “Please help in finding her! Prayers needed! ???.”
She also wrote, “This is my granddaughter! Please Pray for her safe return to us! Love you Melina and please come home!” Mike Cottrell wrote, “Friends and family. I know there is a lot of gossip out there regarding my niece. Until someone in my immediate family has personally seen and spoken to my niece she is considered a missing person and could be in danger.”
He shared a missing person’s poster of Melina and added: “With that said we are asking that you share this poster and keep her in your prayers. Hopefully we will here from her soon and will let everyone know. Until then please let someone in my family or the police agencies. listed below know if you have information regarding her whereabouts. Please share. Thank you.”
4. Melina Studied at a Community College & Flores Wrote That She Was Moving Forward
On Facebook, Melina Cottrell wrote that she studied at Ivy Tech Community College, went to Calumet New Tech High School, lives in Gary, Indiana, and is from Gary, Indiana.
She also wrote that she was single, although her Facebook page is filled with photos of a man and a young child.
Flores wrote on Facebook, “I’m on my own little journey to get back what’s mine!..SOBER n moving forward!!..????❤??” Perez addressed the addiction issue, telling CBS Chicago, ““My sister has an addiction problem, but she’s still a mother of six and I just feel that nobody deserves what she’s going through. I want my sister found and we want her home.”
Flores also wrote: “love is always a gamble so never risk it all cuz you will end up with nothing at all!???❤”
5. Both Women Are Mothers
According to CBS Chicago reporter Lauren Victory, the women have seven children between them.
“Jessica Flores…has 6 kids; Melina Cottrell has young daughter. Both women haven’t contacted families in several days,” she wrote on Twitter.