SWAMPSCOTT — The sister of a missing Swampscott woman on Tuesday begged the public to come forward with any tips about where Jaimee Mendez might be, saying the last time her missing sister was heard from, she was pleading to be picked up from the home of a convicted sex offender.
"We're just taking it minute by minute, second by second, day by day, turning over every leaf, looking at everything that comes about, just asking for help," said Alyssa Mendez, 27, at a news conference she held at the edge of the woods in a Salem office park, where she said her sister's cellphone had been found. "The more information we get out there, hopefully the more information we get back in return."
Jaimee Mendez, 25, was last heard from on Thursday and was reported missing Saturday, according to the Essex district attorney's office. Local and State Police are searching for Mendez in Salem, Lynn, and Swampscott using canine units and the State Police Airwing, according to a statement from the DA's office.
Police could be seen on Tuesday searching a dumpster and a garage near the home of the Level 3 sex offender whom Mendez's family believes she was with on Thursday. Police towed away a green van with Virginia license plates from in front of the home. Neighbors said it was the second vehicle towed from the property.
No one came to the door at the sex offender's house, and neighbors said they believed he had left on Monday night with his family. The Globe is not naming the offender because he has not been charged in connection with Mendez's disappearance.
Alyssa Mendez said that a cellphone and clothing believed to belong to her sister had been found on Technology Way in Salem, and that sneakers believed to her sister's had been found in a CVS dumpster in Lynn, just blocks from the home of the sex offender. A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation confirmed Mendez's statements.
A spokeswoman from the Essex district attorney's office declined to comment on any of Mendez's statements, or any searches, evidence, or suspects in the case.
Alyssa Mendez also said during the news conference that another woman reported missing — who has since been found — knows both her sister and the sex offender and could have information about her sister's disappearance.
But Essex district attorney spokeswoman Carrie Kimball Monahan said the other woman was not part of their investigation. "Our investigation is focused on locating Jaimee Mendez," said Kimball Monahan. "There's no information or evidence that suggests at this time that it's connected."
Last Thursday evening, Jaimee Mendez placed two phone calls to two friends, saying she was with the sex offender and that he was making her nervous, according to an account by Alyssa Mendez.
In the second call, Mendez asked her friend to pick her up on the street where the sex offender lives. But, her sister said, when the friend arrived, Jaimee Mendez was nowhere to be found.
"She's responsible, she's beautiful, she's smart, she's intelligent, she's a fighter," Alyssa Mendez said of her sister. "If she wanted to come home, she did everything she could to come home. Something stopped her from coming home. And we need to know what that was."
She said her father has spoken with the sex offender, and that the man denied being with Jaimee Mendez at all.
"I am really hoping that someone can come forward with any details of this man's habits, anybody he might have hung out with," she said. "Anything. Even if you think it doesn't help, please call in. It means the world."
Alyssa Mendez said her sister is diabetic and needs insulin. She spent Tuesday organizing searches on her Facebook page, and searchers could be seen walking along the road at Technology Way in Salem.
In a statement posted on Facebook late Tuesday night, the Mendez family said they would continue their search on Wednesday. "We need to get her back home," said Alyssa Mendez in the interview. "And that's it."