Carlesha’s grandmother: ‘In my heart, I believe she is alive’

If not for what happened here 60 hours earlier, the scene at W. Coulter and Greene streets Wednesday morning spoke of normalcy.

A UPS truck stopped to make deliveries. A woman walked her small dog. The sounds of children’s recess echoed over from the Germantown Friends School campus.

But a passerby’s stance that “they’re going to get his ass, whoever he is” not far from a hulking satellite truck was anything but normal.

The search continues

It was day three of the search for Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, the 22-year-old Germantown woman whose violent Sunday night abduction was captured by surveillance cameras and broadcast nationwide.

Investigators focused their efforts in Maryland, where the missing woman’s ATM card was used just hours after her disappearance.

However, her paternal grandmother Ana Mulero and Ana’s husband Derek joined other relatives in Germantown to continue efforts to bring their loved one home safely.

“It’s very hard for me to be standing here talking to you. It’s hard for me to even talk about this,” Mulero said to one of a series of television reporters from local and national outlets who asked for a moment of her time Wednesday morning. “Inside, I’m breaking down. I just want answers. I just want to get her back.”

The latest

From an investigative standpoint, police sources tell NewsWorks not very much has changed since an emotional Tuesday press conference at the 35th Police District.

They’re still following leads based on evidence from the scene and in Maryland, and released a new video on Wednesday.

After walking a national-news crew through the locations seen on the initial abduction video, Mulero said that the passage of time without answers has not made things easier on Carlesha’s loved ones.

She said she last spoke the granddaughter that she raised in Maryland — more than two hours away from Aberdeen, where the ATM-surveillance footage was recorded — on Halloween.

It was one of Carlesha’s favorite holidays, since their Maryland home was known as a must-stop destination for neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

On Saturday, Mulero left a voicemail for the granddaughter who called her mom. She didn’t hear back.

Around 3 a.m. Monday, she got a frantic call from Carlesha’s mother Keisha telling her what happened.

Trying times

Noting that she did not recognize the man shown in surveillance videos, but that she thinks it’s likely that it’s the same man in the abduction and ATM footage, Mulero reiterated her pleas for the abductor or someone who knows him to come forward.

“Whoever he is, I hope he’s caught,” she said. “I’m pleading for him to come forward. How would you like it if one of your family members, your mom, your daughter, your aunt, was missing?”

For her part, Carlesha’s aunt Tina Ford noted that no one is really sleeping much during these trying times.

Regarding the footage filmed at this very intersection two and a half days earlier, Mulero said that violently fighting back against her abductor “was the Carlesha I know. She was fighting for her life.”

She also noted that she can’t discern whether her granddaughter knew the man: “That is the mystery here.” She was hopeful that news could be coming “within the next day or so.”

As time passes, the family takes solace in the fact that since the abductor used Carlesha’s ATM card, she had to be alive to tell him the PIN number.

“I’m trying to be positive, trying to believe we will get her back safely,” Mulero continued. “In my heart, I believe she is alive.”

How to help

With a reward fund having grown to $47,000, investigators said the vehicle shown taking Carlesha is a 2000-2002 dark-grey, four-door Ford Taurus with unknown plates. It’s missing its inspection stickers.

At the time of the abduction, Freeland-Gaither was wearing light blue jeans, a grey and white sweater, jean jacket and tan shoes.

The suspect is a 5-foot 10-inch tall black male in his late twenties with a medium to heavy build. He was wearing a dark colored jacket with a dark-colored hood (possibly a hooded sweatshirt) underneath, dark-colored hat and dark-colored pants at the time.

Investigators ask anyone with information about the case, or suspects, to call Northwest Detective Division at (215) 548-4756.

The family also asks anyone with information to contact them at (215) 200-6123.

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