With just a few days to go until Christmas, a New York family is anxiously hoping and praying for the safe return of Lynette Hernandez, a 27-year-old mother, who has been missing since October.
“I just want to find my daughter,” Lynette’s mother, Lourdes Pinzón told Dateline. “I need her. And her daughter needs her mother. Everyday she asks questions. And I don’t have answers.”
Lourdes, who lives in Nassau County, New York, told Dateline she last saw her daughter on September 19, 2020. Lynette and her 6-year-old daughter, Bella, had been living with Lourdes, but Lynette was planning to move to Brooklyn to live with her boyfriend.
“She was excited to move to an apartment in Brooklyn,” Lourdes said. “But… I was not sure it was a good idea.”
Days turned into weeks and Lourdes grew worried that she hadn’t heard from Lynette. And even more worried that Lynette had not called Bella.
“She would always call Bella,” Lourdes said. “Bella has a phone just so her mom can call her. I asked her and I checked her phone. But… nothing.”
Lourdes called family members and friends, asking if they had seen or heard from Lynette. She had been seen at her usual places in Jamaica, Queens and southern Brooklyn, but no one could pinpoint the last time she was seen.
Lourdes decided it was time to reach out to Lynette’s boyfriend. It was October 10, 2020. She told Dateline that he told her the last time he saw Lynette was on October 4.
“He didn’t know where she was… said they hadn’t fought or anything,” Lourdes said. “He thought she was off with friends. Or back with us.”
Lourdes told Dateline she continued trying to reach Lynette on her phone, but it had been disconnected. At that point, her family was also unable to trace it, they said.
On October 12, Lourdes filed a missing person report with the Nassau County Police Department. Although a report was taken, Lourdes said she was told she needed to file a missing persons report in Brooklyn as well, since that was the last place Lynette was seen.
But when Lourdes went to the New York Police Department in Brooklyn, she said she was told there was nothing they could do since the case was already filed in Nassau.
Nassau County police detective Kerriann Hoovert confirmed to Dateline they do have a missing persons report and are accepting tips and leads in Lynette, but since the case is out of their jurisdiction, their hands are tied. She added that she hopes the NYPD will take over the investigation.
“Anyone who has information can call us here in Nassau County, or if you see Lynette in Brooklyn or Queens, immediately call the NYPD in your area,” Det. Hoovert said. “What’s important is that we find Lynette.”
Lynette’s family, some of whom live in Nassau County, some in Brooklyn and Queens, have been out every day, posting fliers and talking to people, trying to find something to lead them to Lynette.
Lynette’s cousin, Amy Sifuentes, who lives in Queens, told Dateline she was hanging fliers at a bus stop in Jamaica, Queens, when someone approached her and defeatedly said, “Oh, another missing person.”
“It’s disheartening,” Amy said. “There are so many missing people in that area, people have become numb to it.”
But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep through the city and a winter storm hindered search efforts last week, Lynette’s family continues to hang fliers, call shelters and hospitals, hoping for a lead.
“We’re going through the streets, looking for her, all the time,” Lourdes said. “But going nowhere.”
Lourdes told Dateline that it’s frustrating and said it feels like she’s on her own in the search for her daughter.
“I just feel like I’m going in circles,” Lourdes said. “I don’t know what else to do or where to turn.”
Lynette’s family has created a Bring Lynette Home Facebook page with the hope someone will report a sighting or share helpful information.
But many questions still remain, her cousin, Amy told Dateline.
“What worries us is that this isn’t like her at all,” Amy said. “She always has her phone and she’s always on social media. For her not to be connected to her phone is strange.”
Amy told Dateline they worry she may be in a position where she can’t reach out to anyone for help.
“We don’t know if she’s alive or not,” Amy said. “Or if something has happened, maybe someone has her, and she can’t get in contact with us. There are just so many unknowns right now.”
Amy added that there was never a time her cousin wasn’t in some contact with her daughter, so for weeks to pass without any calls to Bella, she’s worried.
“Bella is her number one,” Amy said. “She would always contact her, no matter what.”
Lynette’s mother, Lourdes, told Dateline that 6-year-old Bella knows her mother is missing and constantly asks to go looking for her.
“She says, ‘where’s my mama, let’s go look for her,’” Lourdes said tearfully. “And I don’t have answers for her. It’s upsetting.”
Lynette’s family told Dateline they hope by telling her story, someone will see her picture, recognize her, and have information about where she might be.
“She deserves help, too,” Lourdes said. “She’s a human. She’s a mother. She has a baby. She has a family who loves her. Now we just want her home.”