This week’s column is more accurately a public service announcement. The other day, we read a press release from the Newark Bureau of the FBI regarding something that happened nine years ago.
We were not familiar with the case, the crime did not occur in The Observer coverage area, nor was the victim from any of our towns. But it happened not far away. And maybe, just maybe, one of our readers knows something, or suspects something, or has heard something. Something that might help authorities find a missing woman — or at least find a lead on what might have happened to her.
This is the story of Carla Vicentini, who came to New Jersey from Brazil as an exchange student on Jan. 19, 2006. She was 22 years old.
According to the press release, Vicentini promptly found employment at a White Castle Restaurant on Route 46 in Ledgewood, and for a couple of weeks she resided at the Roxbury Motel in that town.
Then, on Feb. 5, 2006, she and a roommate, also an exchange student, began renting an apartment on Ferry St. in the Ironbound section of Newark, the neighborhood just over the Jackson St. bridge from Harrison.
Vicentini’s roommate worked as a waitress at the Adega Bar & Grill, located at 130 Ferry St., and “during the early morning hours of Feb. 10, 2006,” Vicentini went there to visit her friend, the FBI said.
At approximately 2:30 a.m., Vicentini left the bar with an unidentified white male she had apparently met in the Adega lounge.
According to investigators, she “told her roommate she was going to look at a photograph in the automobile of this individual and would meet her at their apartment, only a few blocks away.”
“Vicentini,” they said, “was never seen or heard from again.”
The FBI said the man was described as white, of unknown nationality, having a fair complexion, light eyes, and short salt-and-pepper hair. He was approximately 30 years old (nine years ago), about 5-foot- 8, weighing 200 pounds, with a stocky build.
Vicentini, a native of Brazil, spoke Portuguese and limited English. She was described as about 5-foot-7, 140 pounds, with brown eyes and blonde hair.
She has multiple body piercings and three tattoos: a gray angel on her back, a red and yellow chameleon on her left hip, and a “tribal tattoo” on her lower back.
She is listed by the federal agency as a kidnapping victim.
Although this might be considered a cold case, investigators continue to pursue leads.
And last week, on the ninth anniversary of her disappearance, the Newark Division of the FBI announced it is offering a reward of up to $20,000 “for information leading to the location of Carla Vicentini or information leading to the identity of the person(s) involved in her disappearance.”
In addition, the agency is launching a multi-media campaign to publicize the new reward. As well as notifying the news media, it will place digital billboards “across the Newark area,” and Vicentini’s photo “will be sent out on various FBI social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.”
Hoping against hope, until and unless a body is found, somewhere, there is still the chance that Carla Vicentini may be alive. Somewhere.
But if she is not, the least her family in Brazil deserves is some form of closure.
And in either case, the person responsible for her disappearance deserves to be brought to justice.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Carla Vicentini is urged to call the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Newark Division, at 973-792-3000.
– Karen Zautyk