Newly-engaged lesbian couple who mysteriously vanished were driving more than 100mph before fatal crash
A newly-engaged lesbian couple who mysteriously disappeared last month were driving at more than 100mph before the fatal car crash that killed them, police have said.
Stephanie Mayorga, 27, and Paige Escalera, 25, vanished from their home in Wilmington, North Carolina last month.
The couple had moved in together and announced their engagement in March, and were were last seen in surveillance footage leaving their home in Escalera’s car on April 15.
Escalera’s sister raised concerns about the couple’s disappearance after discovering that “every single one” of her sister’s friends were abruptly blocked from following her on social media – with the couple’s dog and Escalera’s phone left behind in their apartment when the pair vanished.
It wasn’t until May 4 that authorities discovered the grey Dodge Dart belonging to Escalera in a heavily wooded area with two bodies inside.
At the time, Wilmington Police Department said in a statement that the vehicle “may have been involved in an extremely high velocity crash” and added: “Due to the effects of decomposition, police cannot positively identify the two bodies at this time.”
Last week, using dental records and tattoos, a medical examiner identified the lesbian couple, saying that Mayorga had been the driver and Escalera the passenger.
According to NBC News, police determined that “alcohol and speed were major factors in the wreck”.
The car is thought to have been travelling between 102mph and 103mph when it hit the curb, flew over a sloped area and landed 20 feet below.
“Several open, empty beer bottles were discovered in the vehicle,” police said, and the couple had bought a 12-pack of beer around an hour before the crash.
However, it cannot be confirmed that Mayorga was drinking and driving, as police said: “Due to the level of decomposition, it is unlikely that a toxicology report will yield results”.
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The couple’s cause of death was listed as traumatic head and chest injuries from the crash.
Family and friends of the lesbian couple were left frustrated that they were not found sooner.
Around the time of the couple’s disappearance, police received a 911 call reporting of a car crash in the same area where Escalera’s car was later found.
At the time, first responders searched the woods with flashlights but said they could not find any evidence of a crash or anyone with injuries.
Escalera’s sister Stevie Jenkins told NBC News: “My biggest concern is why they didn’t conduct a reasonable search that night.
“I feel like all the clues to find them were handed to them and they just brushed it off because they ‘didn’t see anything,’ as they reported.”
Although police and emergency services responded to the 911 call at the time of the crash, they stayed on the scene for less than 10 minutes.