A 20-year-old East Palo Alto woman with learning disabilities and a medical condition disappeared six weeks ago, leaving her family worried about her safety. They are asking for the public's help to locate her.
Salamasina Lolita Alo — known to her family and friends as Lolita or Lita — hasn't been in contact with her family since June 30. They fear she might have gotten into a car with an unidentified man and could be trafficked or held against her will, according to her sister, Leilani Alo.
Lolita Alo vanished sometime after 6:40 a.m. while her sister and mother were doing chores at the Project WeHope homeless shelter located at 1854 Bay Road near Pulgas Avenue in East Palo Alto. The family had been homeless for about one-and-a-half years, living on the streets in their car and migrating from shelter to shelter. They have been staying at Project WeHope for the past two to three months, Leilani Alo said.
That morning, Lolita Alo was riding her bicycle outside of the shelter and was spotted near Jack Farrell Park, about a half-mile away from the ProjectWe Hope site, where she was picked up in a car, Leilani Alo said people have told her. Alo has learning disabilities, including attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"She is easily manipulated," her sister said. "I haven't heard her voice. I haven't seen her face. If my sister is still out there, hopefully we can bring her home. It's not good for her to be alone with her disabilities this long. I'm just scared for my baby sister."
She also has difficulty speaking and comprehending what people say. She is without her medication for seizures, her sister added.
Lolita Alo is the youngest of seven siblings from Anchorage, Alaska, where her other family members still live, Leilani Alo said.
The family received tips that Lolita Alo has been spotted with a man in Redwood City, San Mateo and San Jose.
"She is so sweet and so loving and caring. She is always smiling and she loves kids. She is just a ball of sunshine," Leilani Alo said.
Their mother, Gae'e Alo, said she is distraught over her daughter's disappearance.
"This is my baby. My heart hurts. My heart feels pain. I don't know what to do. I can't breathe. I can't eat. I can't think. I miss my baby. I can't imagine what's going on out there," she said by phone on Monday.
Leilani Alo said searching for her sister has been especially hard. Their mother has been in and out of the hospital and she has to work, limiting their time.
After weeks of fruitless searches, Gae'e Alo said she "gives it to God" to try to solve the mystery of her daughter's disappearance.
"All I can do is wait and hold up her picture to show people. If someone sees her, tell her to use her cellphone to call me. Call the police or 911. Somebody, please, bring my baby back."
In an email to the Weekly, East Palo Alto police Cmdr. Michael Stasko said her mother told police that Lolita Alo has never run away, but he found two recent, prior cases in the police database where she left on her own and was located in Redwood City. A Redwood City police Facebook post showed that she was missing on April 24; she was located and checked out fine the next day. Redwood City police said at the time in news reports that she has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old.
"I monitor all of the missing person(s) cases for EPAPD. Patrol is advised during line up of suspects, crime trends, as well as missing persons who are still outstanding," Stasko said.
The Alo family told police Lolita left the WeHope shelter and didn't return, according to Stasko. A day before she left, her mother gave her four bus tokens.
At some point after she went missing, someone acquainted with Lolita Alo came to the police station and told officers he believed he saw her at a Santa Clara County community services building in San Jose. "He was not totally positive that it was (Lolita) Alo," Statsko said.
East Palo Alto police have notified law-enforcement agencies in all of the nine Bay Area counties regarding Lolita Alo. So far, no other agency reported anyone had contact with her.
Lolita Alo is Polynesian, stands 5 feet and 8 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds, according to police. She has long, curly black hair and was last seen wearing a white T-shirt with gold writing, brown leggings and black tennis shoes.
Anyone who sees her or who knows her whereabouts is asked to call the East Palo Alto Police Department at 650-853-3160 or call 911.