Remains found in Swampscott belonged to missing woman
The skeletal human remains found entwined in lobster traps on King’s Beach in Swampscott Wednesday have been identified as belonging to local mother Jaimee Mendez, 25, who has been missing since November, according to the Essex district attorney’s office.
“We are relieved for Jaimee’s family that she has been located and identified. We will continue to work diligently to determine the circumstances of her death,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement Friday. “Our thoughts are with the Mendez family during this difficult time.”
Mendez’s family was “absolutely destroyed” emotionally Friday night, Michael D. Newton, 50, the paternal grandfather of Mendez’s son, said through a Facebook message. He said he was too distraught to talk by phone. Other family members could not be reached for comment.
Newton said Mendez, of Swampscott, was a hard-working woman who loved to take her young son to the park and on car rides. She also had a great laugh, he said.
“She was a good, honest, loving, person who gave everything to her son,” Newton said. “To me, she was family in every sense.”
Since Mendez’s disappearance, her family has maintained a public Facebook page to post messages about her and organize searches for her body. On Friday morning, before the identification was made, one of her parents posted a note about receiving the call that remains had been found on the beach after this week’s blizzard.
“I know that’s Jaimee and I know she made herself known so she could help ease my pain,” read the note. “I know my daughter,and she knows me. I would never stop looking for her and she would never stop trying to get where I could find her. All it took was the perfect storm and power to get her to wash up on the sand and she came all the way up right up to the sea wall, but that’s my girl. Strong even in spirit. I love you Jaimee and I know you’ll always be right beside me and your baby.”
Mendez’s family has said that she was last heard from in early November when she called two friends to pick her up, saying she was with a registered sex offender and he was making her nervous. But when her friend arrived, her family said, Mendez was nowhere to be found.
A cellphone and clothing believed to be hers were found on Technology Way in Salem, and sneakers believed to be hers were found in a CVS dumpster in Lynn, just blocks from the sex offender’s home, her family and authorities said.
The Globe has not named the sex offender because he has not been charged with a crime.
Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney, said the chief medical examiner’s office has not yet determined the cause and manner of Mendez’s death and could not say whether she was killed. She was identified through dental records .
“We don’t know how she died,” Monahan said.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said authorities consider the sex offender a suspect in Mendez’s disappearance.
The sex offender could not be reached for comment Friday.
Mendez has a 5-year-old son with autism, her family said. Her sister Alyssa has said she was devoted to the boy and described Mendez as a strong and beautiful person who would have fought to come home.
On Friday night, Bree Clements, who said she grew up with Mendez, said in a Facebook message that she was crying so hard she could barely see.
“She was nothing but a kind-hearted person, always smiling,” said Clements, 25.
Clements, who now lives in Derry, N.H., described Mendez as “full of life” and a good mother, daughter, and sister.
“She was a good person that didn’t deserve what happened to her,” Clements said.
Since Mendez’s disappearance, the district attorney’s office, State Police, and Swampscott, Salem, and Lynn police have been conducting searches throughout the area to try to find her. The State Police Dive Team, K-9 Units, and AirWing, as well as the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, also have helped in the search.
Her remains, which Monahan described as “body parts,” were found by a dog walker around 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Mendez’s mother came to the beach Wednesday to watch investigators work in the whipping wind. She stood up on the hood of her car as a dump truck holding her daughter’s remains left the scene.