By Ann McAdams | May 11, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT – Updated May 11 at 6:40 PM
Wilmington police have still not positively identified the people found in the gray Dodge Dart that crashed into a wooded area off of River Road, but the car belonged to a woman reported missing weeks ago. The car’s owner, 25-year-old Paige Escalera, and her fiance, 27-year-old Stephanie Mayorga, disappeared April 15.
During the search following their disappearance and since the crash-site was discovered, there has been an outpouring of support from community members. Carla McCall, who had never met the young women, helped set up the memorial for them just outside of Watermark Marina, where the crash happened.
“Those girls need to be remembered. They are loved by so many, and that’s why we started this. We wanted people to have a place to come to, to leave things showing their love and just keep the girls’ memory alive. When you take that away, it’s like you are taking them away from us again. That’s all we had,” McCall said.
According to witnesses, the memorial, which included crosses, pictures, flowers, and teddy bears, was intact as of 9 a.m. Monday morning. At some point after that, a jogger noticed the memorial was missing, and found the items left in the women’s memory had been strewn into the nearby marsh.
“Heartbroken,” McCall said of her reaction. “I couldn’t wrap my head around who or why they would have done this. Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Two moms lost their daughters. And now someone comes out and destroyed the memorial that everyone set up to honor those two girls.”
McCall and others worked to move the memorial back to its place along the roadside, but some of the items, including a large cross, had been damaged. McCall estimated several hundred dollars had been spent on the memorial, but she was more upset over the callous treatment of the memorial than of the cost of repairing it.
Memorial organizers checked with the City of Wilmington, who said they had not moved it or authorized it to be moved. Wilmington Police officers responded to take a police report about the apparent memorial desecration. However, they told mourners that because there are no cameras at the site, it was unlikely they would be able to determine who had moved it.
McCall said it was destroyed in broad daylight, and asked anyone who may have seen the person responsible to please come forward with information.
Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.