Missing Person: Lilly Aramburo

She's one of 5,000 people a year reported gone without a trace in Miami-Dade County.

All the Internet attention has amazed Lucely. "[Janet Forte] has knocked down barriers in her mission to find information," she says. "And Janet has found out things that convinced her that something happened to Lilly."

Forte recently got some police response after she received an anonymous call stating Lilly's body was buried on a three-acre lot at 24550 SW 127th Ave. in Homestead. Detective Mancha had the property searched and then sent her an e-mail saying the search had yielded "no hits for Lilly."

Captain Bollinger-Heller defends Mancha, noting that her bureau has only four other detectives to handle the hundreds of missing-persons reports filed with the county police. "Lilly Aramburo has been a high priority," she says. "But we handle many more cases at the same time."

Lilly Aramburo disappeared June 1, 2007, and has not been found.
Courtesy of Janet Forte
Lilly Aramburo disappeared June 1, 2007, and has not been found.
Social media strategist Janet Forte spends hours on the Internet posting information about Lilly and her disappearance.
Laura Massa
Social media strategist Janet Forte spends hours on the Internet posting information about Lilly and her disappearance.

Every detective under Bollinger-Heller's command has put in hours trying to find Lilly. "We have followed up on every lead on her," the captain continues, adding that the domestic crimes bureau has received tips regarding sightings of Lilly alive.

In fact, just this past February, a shelter manager at Camillus House called to report seeing Lilly inside the downtown Miami homeless assistance facility. Of course, when cops arrived, they couldn't find her. Was Lilly a victim of foul play? "We haven't ruled out any possibility," Bollinger-Heller says. "But at this point, we have no proof of criminal wrongdoing in this case, so we can't just pick someone up and arrest them."

Lilly's mother lends little credence to the Camillus House sighting. "I put up posters there shortly after she disappeared with my phone number on it," Lucely says. "No one ever contacted me." Officers have recently made more effort because of the bloggers, especially Forte, Lucely says. "If it wasn't for Janet, the police would not be doing anything."


Christen Pacheco sinks into a reading chair at Starbucks in Florida City when music by synthpop group the Magnetic Fields begins playing. "This is so weird," he says. "This is Lilly's favorite band."

He looks over at his new girlfriend, who sits silently next to him as he recounts his tale of drug abuse with Lilly.

"Part of me wanted to save her," Christen explains. "But it turned out I really wasn't the right person to help her out because we both were so messed up on drugs."

Before he called police to report Lilly missing on June 2, 2007, Christen says, he spent the entire morning searching for her. "I looked in the Grove. I went to a couple of different dope holes were she would cop drugs."

Regarding the Escalade, Christen says he wrecked the SUV last July, a full month after Lilly vanished, on his way back to Miami from his grandmother's funeral in Kingston, Pennsylvania. "The accident happened in Yemassee, South Carolina," he says. "I fell asleep at the wheel, went down an embankment, and the truck flipped over."

Christen says he binged on heroin for weeks after Lilly went away. "I was at home wallowing in self-pity, banging up my veins," he says, caressing the track marks on his arm. "Anyone who knew me and Lilly saw how hurt I was about her disappearance."

Then, he says, in early August of last year, he ran into two friends who claimed they had seen Lilly in Overtown. "One of them went up to her and tried talking to her," Christen says, "but Lilly just kept walking."

For the past six months, Christen says, he's been trying to rebuild his life. His recent bust for holding the heroin-tinged needles was a one-time relapse, he says. "I was going to a party with some old friends," Christen admits. "Before it even started, the cops roped me off."

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