CENTRAL FALLS – A pregnant developmentally disabled woman, missing since last Wednesday, has been located safe and sound.
Luisa Pena, 21, was located by Central Falls police yesterday on the Central Falls-Pawtucket line, a week after she was reported missing by her family. Pena is three months pregnant, has a profound speech impediment and doesn't drive.
According to police, Pena was reunited with her family and friends yesterday, two days after her family – worried that she had been abducted – made a public appeal for help at Central Falls High School, where Pena attended.
Pawtucket Police Major Arthur Martins said at a press conference yesterday that Pena was found unharmed at about 11 a.m. Wednesday near the area of Fountain Street in Pawtucket and that there was no evidence she was abducted. Martins said Pena was found by a Pawtucket police informant who recognized her from media photopgraphs. The informant then notified Pawtucket police.
Martins say it’s still unclear where Pena has been since her family last saw her a week ago, and that detectives were interviewing the woman yesterday to determine where she has been for the past week.
“We’re still speaking to her,” he said. “First and foremost is to ensure her physical well-being is good, and then we will concentrate on determining if a crime was committed, but she appears fine.”
Family spokeswoman Iraida Williams, a family support coordinator with the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities who helped organize the search for Pena, attended the press conference along with Central Falls Police Chief James J. Mendonca.
The family planned to hold a candlelight vigil last nightat the Spring of Life Church in Providence. The event was set to go ahead as planned as a show of thanks to the authorities and public for their work to find Pena, said Victor Capellan, deputy superintendent of schools in Central Falls.
Pena recently reported that she had been assaulted, according to high school teacher Jordana Tillinghast, who said Pena came to the school Oct. 8 and was “petrified, shaking, sobbing.”
An administrator drove Pena to the police station to report the assault before taking her to a hospital.
Pena’s family had been concerned that her attackers may have learned that she spoke to police and abducted her in retaliation.
Tillinghast said she also worried that Pena may have been with a fourth man she recently met at the Pawtucket bus station. Pena said the man had made her promise to keep his name a secret, Tillinghast said.
Pena was last heard from Wednesday morning when she made a phone call from the home she shares with her aunt in Pawtucket. When her aunt returned home, Pena was missing.