In the Dorchester apartment building searched by investigators in the Baby Doe case, several neighbors said they knew a woman with a girl around the same age as the child whose body was found on Deer Island early this summer. They said they had not seen the girl in months.
The girl resembled a composite image released by investigators in the widely publicized case, according to neighbors on Maxwell Street. However, none of them said they made a connection between the girl’s absence and the investigation.
Siomy Torres, who lives next door and did not know the little girl’s name, said the girl used to play with Torres’s daughter. The two children would run around and play with chalk on the porch, she said.
But the girl was often upset, according to Torres. “Half the time she was crying,” she said, adding that she thought the child was no longer around because she was in state custody.
An official told the Globe Friday that investigators are close to identifying the child in the Baby Doe case, but that they need to conduct forensic tests in order to make a conclusive link.
The woman whose home was searched had become withdrawn since Torres last saw the girl. That was unusual, Torres said. The woman used to confide in her, sharing even upsetting and unsavory details of her life.
Torres said she did not believe the woman worked, and the woman kept odd hours with her daughter, who did not appear to go to school or day care. They would leave early in the morning and return late at night, she said.
Aileen Hermiz, who lives upstairs and played with the child, said the mother was nice but yelled at the girl a lot. The mother would sometimes come upstairs to borrow a phone or get an Internet password, she said.
“I can’t believe a mother could do that to her child,” she said. “I think if she did something like that it would show reaction, but she was really quiet.”
Another neighbor who declined to give her name said she only knew the woman and girl in passing. She said the woman appeared to be a good mother.
The neighbor said she had watched the news nightly and knew well the story of Baby Doe. However, she never made a connection between the child in her apartment and the little girl on the beach.
“Never, never in my wildest dreams,” said the woman.