The body of a 25-year-old Cleveland woman who was reported missing under suspicious circumstances was found in a vacant home on the city’s east side, local authorities said.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to Cleveland.com that Anastasia Hamilton was found in a home where no one appeared to be living at about 4pm on Wednesday in a part of the city called Slavic Village, about a 15-minute drive from where the 25-year-old was last known to be alive.
Her mother spoke with Cleveland 19 just days after her daughter had vanished from the parking garage, and told reporters: “This has been awful. I wouldn’t wish this on any mother. And I just want to bring her home.”
“I just want her to come home, and I want her to be alive,” Melissa Romanello, Hamilton’s mother, told the news station.
Her daughter lived in Cleveland and worked in the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland, but she originally grew up in Medina, about a half-hour drive from her office.
Anastasia Hamilton, 25, was last seen on 21 May in the parking garage of her work in Cleveland, Ohio. Her body was found on Wednesday 25 May in a vacant home. (Crimestoppers)
Ms Romanello told News 5 Cleveland that she’d last heard from her daughter on Saturday, 21 May, late at night, but by Sunday morning, she felt like something was wrong.
“I texted her at 9.30 in the morning asking if she wanted to come over and help me organise my closets. I didn’t hear back from her,” Ms Romanello told the news outlet, explaining that because she and her daughter talked “half a dozen times a day”, it felt odd when she didn’t hear back from her initial text by at least the afternoon.
“We are just very close and on the phone constantly.”
By the time 4pm rolled around, she was in a full-blown panic and then by that evening, she was on the phone with the police.
Police were able to ping Hamilton’s cellphone from a tower in the area and locate where it had last been used, which turned up to be at a steel mill in Cleveland, a place that Ms Romanello said she couldn’t imagine why her daughter would ever be at.
After reaching out to the police, Ms Romanello began to take matters into her own hands, calling her daughter’s office, K&D Properties, at Terminal Tower, the very place she was last known to be seen alive.
When her daughter’s colleagues picked up, however, the news she received was not reassuring.
“I said ‘I think my daughter is missing,’ they said ‘We know. Her car is in the parking garage and we just assumed she was inside the building,’ they had looked in the bathroom and one hour later they were like ‘Where is Anastasia?’ because no one could find her,” she told News 5 Cleveland.
Police were later able to pull the surveillance video from inside the parking garage of Hamilton’s office, where they found the last known images of the 25-year-old alive.
Anastasia Hamilton, 25, is seen in surveillance camera footage from the parking garage at her office in downtown Cleveland with an unknown man on 21 May. (Crimestoppers)
In the grainy footage, you can see the young woman dressed in pants and a black sweater beside a man in a baseball cap who’s carrying what looks to be a grocery bag full of items.
While Ms Romanello didn’t recognise the unknown man, police were able to identify him based on the video and told the mother they knew that he lived close to Cleveland’s steelyards.
Officers reportedly went and checked up on the man often, the mother told the news outlet, but her daughter or any leads to her whereabouts never turned up.
At the time of the interview, Ms Romanello had recruited friends and family members, Hamilton’s work colleagues to help in the search for her daughter and had even spoken with a private investigator.
On Wednesday, the news that Ms Romanello was dreading to receive arrived after her daughter’s body was discovered at the vacant home in Slavic Village, about a 15-minute drive from the parking garage where she was last seen with an unknown man.
“This is the worst experience I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” the mother told News 5 Cleveland, just days before her daughter’s body would be found. “I have a thousand things, all horrible, going through my head.”
The Independent reached out to the Cleveland Police Department for comment on the case but did not receive a response immediately.