Carlota Moran doesn’t want to remember.
She doesn’t want to think about that terrible night in February 2016 when her 15-year-old son, Miguel, went missing.
“It was a very, very terrible night, terrible, and no, I don’t even want to remember it anymore because it is very difficult for me, you know?” she said in Spanish through tears in a video interview with Newsday.
ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier has interviewed Carlota frequently over the past 13 months and arranged for Newsday to speak with her in early September. Carlota's interviews with ProPublica and Newsday provide the fullest account to date from a parent whose child went missing during the murder spree in 2016 and '17 tied to the violent MS-13 street gang.
Carlota described her own search for her missing son in agonizing detail.
It began the night he disappeared.
“We went out through the neighborhood,” she said. “It was so dark, looking for him. You know how Brentwood is, it’s dark, it seems, it is the most horrible thing here.”
Then they went back home and waited. “It was the longest night of my life,” Carlota said.
Later, she contacted police, but she said they didn’t pay attention to her complaint. In her interviews with ProPublica, she said they told her that her son was probably out with friends and not to worry. “They treated us bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.”
Later, Carlota’s daughter, Lady, found Facebook messages from another boy to Miguel telling him to meet them in nearby woods to smoke marijuana, the woods that became known as a “killing field.” They took those messages to the police. Carlota said the boy told police he didn’t know what happened to her son — that he sent Miguel another text message that they were going to meet somewhere else but that Miguel never showed up.
Lady never found that text message. That, Carlota said, was proof that the boy was lying.
But she said police didn’t pursue it. A Suffolk County Police Department spokesman declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.
Carlota said police asked her to give them the address of the last place Miguel might have been, but Carlota said she was just too “blocked” mentally to give them any addresses.
But she still searched. “We went out to look for him every day. We did not come home at night. We would go out, we would just come home to eat something or we ate something outside; and we would keep on searching,” she said.
“Day after day, you know, think he was going, he was going to come home and he never did. It was not a day, or two days, it was months,” she said, sobbing. “It ate my soul away and I could not live. I could not breathe anymore.”
Watch the video above and read the Newsday-ProPublica special report.
(Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca)