SALEM — The sister of Jaimee Mendez, the Swampscott woman missing since Thursday, pleaded for the public’s help in locating her sibling, whom she described as a responsible person who would not have abandoned her family.
“She’s very independent. She’s a very good woman,’’ Alyssa Mendez said. “She wouldn’t have put herself in a situation she thought she was unsafe. If she wanted to come home, she would have done everything she could to come home – so there is something that’s off there.’’
Alyssa Mendez spoke with reporters near a field here where the family believes some of the missing woman’s clothing has been found. Alyssa Mendez said she hoped that Stephanie Vaczy, a Salem woman who was missing for nearly two weeks until Tuesday, will share what she knows, if anything, about Jaimee Mendez.
Alyssa Mendez said that Jaimee Mendez, Vaczy, and a Level 3 sex offender from Lynn all know each other. The Mendez family believes the sex offender was the last person to be with Jaimee Mendez.
“They hadn’t been friends for very long,’’ Alyssa Mendez said. “So the family hadn’t met him.’’
Alyssa Mendez also expressed dissatisfaction with the search for her sister by law enforcement, which began Saturday when she was reported missing to Swampscott police.
The search is now being overseen by Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.
This afternoon, a small number of police officers searched the Spring Road neighborhood in Lynn where the sex offender is listed in state records as living. Police were not seen entering the house but did search inside at least one garage owned by a neighbor. Police also briefly searched in a dumpster positioned near the Spring Road home.
They were in the area for about two hours, eventually towing away a minivan, apparently as part of the case.
According to Blodgett spokeswoman Carrie Kimball Monahan, State Police and officers from Swampscott and other departments are using K-9s and the State Police Air Wing to search locations in Salem and Swampscott, as well as Lynn.
“At this point in time, the investigation is focused on locating Jaimee Mendez,’’ Kimball Monahan said. “The focus of our investigation hasn’t changed. It’s a very fluid, active, and ongoing investigation.’’
Officials asked anyone with information to contact Swampscott police at 781-595-1111.
No one is currently facing charges in Mendez’s disappearance.
Stephanie Vaczy was last seen Oct. 30. Her sister, Karissa Vaczy, posted Tuesday on her Facebook page that Stephanie had been found. The Vaczy family did not provide any details, but Alyssa Mendez said she understood that Stephanie Vaczy is currently hospitalized.
Jaimee Mendez was last in contact with her friends and relatives Thursday, according to Alyssa Mendez.
She said her sister called a female friend at 6:40 p.m. Thursday and told them she was with the sex offender and that he was making her nervous. An hour later, Jaimee called a male friend and told him she was at the sex offender’s home and that he continued to make her nervous.
Alyssa Mendez said the male friend drove to the home, but Jaimee Mendez wasn’t there.
Alyssa Mendez said her father spoke with the sex offender this weekend, but he denied Jaimee Mendez was with him.
According to Alyssa Mendez, the sex offender lives mostly in a van. This Saturday, she said, her family saw the interior of the vehicle and noticed that it was carpeted. They saw the vehicle Sunday and the carpet had been removed, Alyssa Mendez said.
It wasn’t clear whether the van was the same van that police removed from the Spring Road area.
Alyssa Mendez asked anyone familiar with the man to share any information that might be helpful.
Mendez also described the recovery of what her family believes were Jaimee Mendez’s sneakers from a dumpster behind a CVS store in Lynn this weekend. She said the family had looked near the store for the missing woman and had left. But then Mendez’s mother had a hunch, and the family returned to the store and found the items in the dumpster, she said.