Details of Disappearance Princess was last seen at her family's residence on Webb Avenue in the New York City borough of the Bronx on June 15, 1996. Officials with New York's Administration Of Children's Services (ACS) had been investigating the Perez home for several months prior to Princess's disappearance.
Princess and her two older sisters were placed into foster care in December 1993, due to neglect. The children were returned to their parents in January 1996, but by April there were allegations of child abuse within the family and ACS workers documented lacerations on one of Princess's sisters.
ACS workers last saw the child on June 15; she was in the company of her father, Antonio Perez, at the time. ACS officials returned to the Perez family's residence in August in response to a report that Princess was missing. They were told by her mother, Karen Perez, that Princess was living in California with Karen's mother. Karen said she did not have address for them, however.
The ACS was unable to locate the child, but Karen stuck by her story that Princess was in California and no further investigation was made at that time, although the ACS did investigate charges that Princess's sisters were being abused.
Antonio was imprisoned for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in 1998. Shortly before he was scheduled to be released, Karen told a relative Antonio had murdered Princess and disposed of her body. She said she and the other children were at home at the time of Princess's death and Princess's sisters had seen her corpse.
Karen's relative called the police, who called the ACS, which finally began an investigation into Princess's disappearance. When questioned, Antonio told authorities that Princess became ill and died of natural causes in mid-June 1996. Antonio claimed that he dumped his daughter's body somewhere in New York City.
Investigators maintained that Antonio did not fully explain why he did not seek medical attention for Princess or call authorities after her death. He agreed to divulge Princess's location to law enforcement in 1998 while serving the remainder of his DWI conviction.
Antonio reportedly led authorities to three locations: Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, the West Side Highway in the borough of Manhattan, and an unidentified location in the borough of Brooklyn. Princess was not discovered at any of the sites Antonio specified.
Princess's two older sisters told ACS officials that they saw Princess lying on the floor of their family's residence in June 1996. The sisters stated that Princess was motionless and her lips were blue. The children said that they saw a garbage bag in their home a short time later; it appeared to contain a small body. Karen recanted her statements about Antonio having killed the child, however.
The older Perez children were removed from Karen's custody by ACS officials in 1998 and placed in foster care. The children were forbidden to have contact with their parents. Antonio was charged in Family Court the same year with abusing his older daughters by murdering Princess in 1996. He pleaded innocent to the charges, stating Princess died of natural causes.
Criminal charges against Antonio have not been filed. Princess has never been located.
- New York Police Department
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 15, 2008; details of disappearance updated.