THE BRONX, N.Y. — Noemy Brinson flew nearly 1,500 miles from Longview, Texas to New York just days before Christmas after a Facebook message from the Bronx gave her one clue about her missing daughter’s whereabouts.
“I know she was under a lot of stress,” Brinson said of her daughter, Dulce Lopez, 31. “Then her mind just [broke] down.”
Bronx residents who live near the K&M Mini Mart on Bainbridge Avenue and East 207th Street decided to reach out to the mother after they saw a notice on Citizen App that Dulce Lopez was missing.
They recognized Lopez as the same woman who had spent time sitting on a crate outside the market in mid-December.
“She said her name was Beyonce when I met her,” one resident said. “That’s the name she was giving everybody.”
When Bainbridge Avenue shoppers observed the missing flyer on Citizen, they saw contact information for Dulce Lopez’s mother and reached out on Facebook.
The worried mom flew to New York on Dec. 19 and went to the location where Lopez was last seen at the mini-mart. A detective who was working on the case sent the mother surveillance images from inside the market, taken about Dec. 16, when Lopez first showed up on Bainbridge Avenue.
“It breaks my heart when I see those pictures,” the mother told PIX11 News, “because I really know she needs help.”
Lopez’s sister, Darlene, flew to New York this week to help her mother with the search for Dulce. She told PIX11 News her sister had suffered manic depressive episodes in the past, before leaving Texas to live in the Bronx.
“She had one maybe a year or two ago,” Darlene Lopez recalled, “and she had just gotten stable, had a job in the Bronx [and] was working.”
Darlene Lopez last spoke to her sister Nov. 28, shortly after Thanksgiving, and said the family could tell she wasn’t herself.
“She wasn’t in a good spot,” Darlene Lopez said, “for her mental health.”
Lopez’s mother said her daughter seemed stressed out about a new relationship. Dulce Lopez, she said, was renting a basement apartment with a boyfriend in another part of the Bronx. The mother was so concerned about her daughter’s mental health that she asked local police to do a “wellness check.”
“They put her in the ambulance,” Noemy Brinson told PIX11 News, “and they saw she wasn’t right in the mind, and they still didn’t take her to the hospital.”
Residents near the K&M Mini Mart said Dulce Lopez showed up on Bainbridge Avenue about two weeks after she last had contact with her Texas family.
“She said, ‘I never was like this before,'” Christina, who didn’t want her last name used, told PIX11 News.
Christina went on to say that Dulce Lopez said, “I worked in Texas, I had a car and I had a house.”
But when Lopez came to the Bronx, everything went upside down for her, Christina said.
Another local resident, Maritza, talked briefly with Dulce Lopez as well.
“She didn’t seem like she belonged in the street,” the woman said. “She looked like she was well put together. Very smart and very well-spoken.”
But Lopez was in need of fresh clothes after wearing the same clothing for a couple of weeks in all kinds of weather, so the Bronx women helped her.
The Bainbridge Avenue shopper, Christina, said Lopez was candid about her troubled situation.
“She said she rides the trains,” Christina told PIX11 News, “to get out from the streets. She has nowhere to sleep, she was in shelters, and just basically was riding trains.”
Dulce Lopez was last seen on Bainbridge Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 18, near East 206th Street. Her mother flew to New York the next day.
And the band of women who contacted Noemy Brinson on Facebook are now out on the streets with her, trying to find her daughter.
“Christmas, I was on the street,” said Noemy Brinson, as her voice broke. “The last day of the year, too.”
Brinson mostly walks the streets, looking for her daughter, but she takes trains and buses, too. She is unfamiliar with this part of the Bronx. She said her family moved to Texas 20 years ago.
She told PIX11 News she never thought something like this would happen to her or her family.
“There are flyers everywhere,” Brinson said, her voice filled with pain. “There are flyers, but nobody calls. Nobody says anything.”
The mother is hoping someone will recognize her daughter and call the police.
“I try to keep my faith,” Brinson said, “I try to think she’s going to be okay and pray that the angels can be around her.”
She sent a message to her missing daughter, hoping the appeal will find its way to Dulce Lopez or someone who knows her current location.
“I would say we’re here to help you,” the anguished mother said. “We’re here to protect you, you don’t have to be afraid. Your family’s here looking for you. And we love you so much. Call us.”