Details of Disappearance
Nelida was last seen walking to William Blackstone Elementary School on Shawmut Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts during the morning hours of December 20, 1976. She was enrolled in a third-grade bilingual class there. The school was located approximately one and a half blocks from Nelida's family's residence. She never arrived at school that day and has not been heard from again.
Some of Nelida's clothing was found two weeks after her disappearance, in the possession of Anthony "Rudy" Flores. A woman called police to report he had given her a hat and a pair of gloves; she was suspicious because Flores resembled the sketch of Nelida's possible abductor.
The hat and gloves were Nelida's, and another witness said he'd seen Nelida walking with Flores, holding his hand. Flores was taken in for questioning, and the police found a fake police badge and a fake gun in his possession. He was arrested, but he claimed he'd found Nelida's hat and gloves in the street and authorities were unable to conclusively tie him to her abduction, so he was released.
Nelida had a very shy nature in 1976 and distrusted stranger, but her family says she would have trusted a police officer, and they think Flores could have posed as one to abduct her. Flores was never charged in connection with Nelida's disappearance due to a lack of evidence, and he maintains his innocence in her case, but he remains a suspect.
He has also been linked to the October 1976 disappearance of fourteen-year-old Cesilia Pena in New York City, New York, but has not been charged in that case either. There are reports that he's serving a fifty-year sentence for one and possibly two murders in New York, but this has not been confirmed.
In January 1985, eight years after Nelida vanished, her mother, Theodosia De Jesus, claimed she recognized a picture of her daughter in the apartment of David R. Collins. Collins, who has a long criminal record and uses many aliases, was charged with kidnapping one teenager in California and sexually abusing several others in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The picture De Jesus identified was one of 25 which police found in his apartment and published in a newspaper in hopes that the public could identify the people in them. De Jesus changed her mind about her identification when she examined the original picture, and the girl in the photograph was later identified as another person.
Another picture in his apartment was thought to be of Sarah Avon, a six-year-old who vanished from Illinois in 1981, but that possibility was also ruled out. Collins is not believed to have been involved in either child's disappearance. Nelida's case remains unsolved.