25 Investigates: Missing on The Mile

No calls, no texts, no sightings.  It’s unusual for someone to vanish, but 25 Investigates found one section of Boston where people are reported missing almost weekly.

The “Mass and Cass” area is where Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard meet.

It’s considered ground zero in the Massachusetts opioid epidemic.  The area is commonly referred to as, “Methadone Mile” for the number of Methadone clinics and other addiction services located there.

Some living on “Mass and Cass” don’t want to be found while others seem to disappear.  25 Investigates was contacted by the family of 42-year-old Celia DeJesus, a mother of two with ties to Lawrence and Boston.  Her family said she began hanging out there in 2018 when she became addicted to heroin.

“She started out on cocaine and then she got into pills, drinking and started doing heroin,” Celia’s mother Maribel Rodriguez told investigative reporter Ted Daniel during an interview at her Revere home.

“She was a beautiful person. She was so sweet. She was very helpful with people and with her children,” Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriquez, Celia abruptly stopped communicating with her family in 2019 and there’s been no activity on her cell phone or MassHealth insurance card.

“To this day, we don’t know if she’s alive or she’s gone,” said Celia’s cousin, Sandra Rivera.

According to the family, Celia’s boyfriend claimed she had died of a drug overdose in August 2020 somewhere in Boston.

“Her boyfriend said that they already have buried her,” Rodriguez explained but she’s been unable to find any record of Celia’s death or burial.  “There’s no body to be found,” she said during the emotional interview.

During a visit to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston, Rodriguez said she was shown pictures of unclaimed bodies at the state morgue but none resembled her daughter.  She said she reported Celia’s tattoos and other distinguishing features to the office.

25 Investigates also contacted the Medical Examiner’s Office.

By email, a spokesperson for the agency said there are between 10-15 unidentified bodies at the morgue but none are believed to be Celia.

“The OCME uses every resource available to identify individuals in their custody, including but not limited to fingerprints, dental records, X-rays, DNA comparison, photographs, tattoos, as well as digital resources such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System,” the spokesperson said.

25 Investigates contacted Boston City Hall in search of a death certificate with Celia’s name.  A clerk said they did not have one.

Celia’s family said they’ve reported her missing to Boston Police but so far there are no leads.

Through a public records request, 25 Investigates found at least 18 people have been reported missing from the “Mass and Cass” area since 2016.

Ten of the reports describe the missing individuals as people with substance or mental health issues.

The number of police reports obtained by 25 Investigates may show only a portion of those missing from the area because those reports are typically filed in the city or town where the person last had a legal address.

25 Investigates introduced Celia’s family to Dawn Cobb.  She and a woman named Brianna Kelley operate the “Missing on Mass Ave” Facebook Page.  Cobb said she created it 14 months ago when her son went missing from the area.

“People had spotted him within 12 hours later, he told me. I figured I can’t be the only one going through this,” Cobb said.

New faces are posted to the page every week.  Several people who live or provide services to the homeless encampments follow the page and provide updates about people they are familiar with.  “Missing on Mass Ave” has grown to more than 20 thousand followers.  The page is private and requires moderator approval to be admitted.

“We have found so many people who have made contact, have gotten clean because of the page, have gone to detox. With the sadness comes hope,” Cobb explained.

Three people posted comments that they believed Celia had died when her picture was added to the page in October.

“My heart tells me she’s alive… I feel like it’s a dream and I hope I wake up and it’s not true,” Celia Rodriquez said about her daughter’s disappearance.

If you have any information about Celia Rodriquez’s disappearance, contact Boston Police Crime Stoppers at 1-800-494-TIP

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