December 23, 2008

Seeking Your Help - Have you Seen This Woman?

Missing: Aretha Maria Fernandez

The Union County Sheriff's Office asked for the public's help Monday in finding a 31-year-old mother who has been missing since September 3.

Aretha Maria Fernandez, 31, was last seen about 2:30 p.m. September 3 when she left work at the Ellen Sagar Nursing Home. Her cell phone is off, and she hasn't reported to her other job at the Spartanburg Regional Heart Center or contacted her family and 5-year-old son, according to the sheriff's office.

At a news conference Monday morning, Sheriff Howard Wells said he has reason to believe she might have "met with some foul play."

"Right now, we're treating this as a missing person," he said. "As with any case like this, we're in a fight against time, and we're appealing for anyone with information to come forward."

Wells said Fernandez's boyfriend is a person of interest, as he is believed to be the last person to have seen her. The boyfriend is supposed to have dropped Fernandez off for work and was expected to pick her up Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff said. Wells would not disclose the boyfriend's identity because the man is only a person of interest and has not been charged with a crime.

According to News Channel 7, investigators acting on a tip descended on a Dumpster at a Li'l Cricket store in Pacolet and took it to a location where Union County deputies and SLED agents searched it. The Sheriff's Office did not say whether investigators had found any evidence in the Dumpster but did confirm the search was related to the Fernandez case.

Susie Fernandez, Maria's mother, said she was concerned when Maria didn't show up Wednesday evening. She said her worry grew when she failed to reach Maria on her cell phone.

"At first it would ring, but after awhile, it just went straight to voice mail," the mother said.

Susie Fernandez filed a missing-person report on Friday. She said her daughter is an attentive, loving mother, and it isn't like her to leave her son, not to call or to be absent from work.

"She would bring (her son) to the emergency room, even if he got a small scratch. That's the kind of mother and caring person that she is," Susie Fernandez said. "We're hoping she is OK and that maybe she's just in a place where she can't call us."

Maria Fernandez went back to school in August to complete her registered nurse's certification.
Her co-workers described her as hardworking and likable. "Ms. Fernandez is well respected among her co-workers and is a reliable and valued member of the Ellen Sagar Nursing Home team," said Nikki Harris, a spokeswoman for the Union County Hospital District.
"She always wears a smile and has a wonderful personality. All employees of the Union Hospital District are concerned and pray for her safe return."

Remember that you are God's daughter and He loves you. As you walk with Him, you will become more like Him every day (1 John 3:1-3). As you look to Him, you will be "transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

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