NBC 10 I-Team: Police re-examine 1991 mysterious disappearance of Fall River woman
Nadine Mendonca was 25 years old in 1991.
On Friday, July 12, she went to shoot pool and throw darts at Jake’s Saloon in Fall River. She was never seen again.
In the days after her disappearance, NBC 10 News spoke with her parents at their home, as they feared the worst.
“If she was alive, she would have called us up,” said Fernando Mendonca.
“I'm afraid I have to accept whatever is to come. I’m preparing myself for the inevitable,” said Rita Mendonca, Nadine’s mother.
Two weeks after she vanished, Nadine's car was found in New Bedford's Weld Square. The driver's window of the 1980 Monte Carlo was smashed and blood was found in the trunk.
“As soon as they found the car in Weld Square and told us there was blood inside the trunk of the car, (we) figured it wasn't good at all,” said Nadine’s younger brother, Shawn Mendonca, who remembers his sister as someone who would “talk to everybody.”
It turns out Weld Square was a popular spot for many of the victims in New Bedford's highway killings. In the early 90s, police ruled out a connection between those murders and Nadine’s disappearance, but her family has always had doubts.
“Somebody saw something that night and needs to speak up,” said Shawn.
Now, 27 years have passed. A sun faded sign hangs above Pleasant Street, the only remnant that Jake’s Saloon was ever there.
Nadine's mother passed away in 1996. Her father died last year, with both never knowing the truth about what happened to their daughter.
The loss had a profound impact on Fernando.
“I told my father on his deathbed, I said, ‘Dad, I'm going to find Nadine. We're going to get justice for her,’” said Shawn.
Shawn connected with the group, Missing in New England, and took his pledge to the Fall River Police Department. Detective Sarah Reis, with the major crimes division, is re-examining Nadine’s disappearance, along with state police investigators assigned to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn’s office, according to assistant DA Jennifer Sowa.
Shawn said the renewed interest includes looking at DNA, using 2018 technology, and sending out blood samples to the database controlled by the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NAMUS. Perhaps Nadine’s body was found elsewhere, but was never properly identified.
Shawn wants to find his sisters remains and bring her home to Fall River.
“For all those people and family members who have lost loved ones or have disappeared, don't give up,” he said. “Be persistent. Don't quit.”
Anyone with information on Nadine's disappearance is asked to call Fall River police at 508-324-2796 or the Massachusetts State Police detective unit with the Bristol County District Attorney's Office at 508-993-2016.