In September of 2018, culinary school graduate Kassandra Ramirez was living with a cousin in the Bronx borough of New York City, according to her mother Ingrid Santana. Ingrid, who was living in Wyoming at the time, told Dateline she came to town to visit her daughter in New York.
“I saw Kassandra on Monday, September 17,” Ingrid told Dateline. Ingrid said that Kassandra, 25, spent that day with her younger sister, Rhianna. “They got their nails done and their hair done. And Kassandra took Rhianna to a restaurant where she taught her how to use chopsticks.”
“When they came home that evening, she told me she was starting a new job on Friday,” Ingrid added. “I told her I was going to see what I could do about moving [to New York], so she didn’t have to stay in anyone else’s home. I wanted her to be with me.”
Ingrid said Kassandra left that night after making plans to see her again on Saturday, September, 22, for Ingrid’s birthday. Ingrid told Dateline she didn’t expect to hear from her daughter until then.
Two days later on September 19, Kassandra left the home she was staying at around 11:40 p.m., according to a press release by the New York Police Department. Kassandra’s cousin would later tell Ingrid that Kassandra said she was going to meet up with an ex-boyfriend.
“She told her cousin that [the ex-boyfriend] was downstairs and if it got too late, she would come back home in the morning,” Ingrid said. “The surveillance camera shows her coming downstairs, helping an elderly lady with groceries, and turning left, placing her at Melrose Avenue and East 161 Street.”
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Unbeknownst to Ingrid, Kassandra never returned home.
Ingrid told Dateline she was in the emergency room for a pre-existing medical concern that Friday when she tried to reach her daughter.
“I texted her on Friday and didn’t hear back from her, which was strange because she told me to always let her know if I was [in the hospital],” Ingrid said. “Later that day when my phone beeped, I thought it was Kassandra replying to me. But it was a call to tell me she was missing.”
The New York Police Department confirmed that Ingrid reported her daughter missing to the 42nd Precinct the next morning, September 22. Since then, authorities tell Dateline they have conducted multiple hospital and video canvasses and have been in contact with authorities in New Jersey, Long Island, and Westchester County.
Authorities are also working on tracking Kassandra’s phone and computer for any leads on where she might be, they told Dateline. The New York Police Department declined to comment on whether foul play is suspected in Kassandra’s disappearance.
Kassandra’s family has also been on the search for their missing loved one.
“We have had to go and backtrack -- we have tried to figure out where she was, who she had been with, who she could have seen,” Ingrid said. “We distributed flyers around Melrose and 161 Street, where she was last seen. We distributed flyers [on the subway] and have gone into Long Island, too.”
Ingrid told Dateline she has been unable to contact the man Kassandra was reportedly going to see the night she disappeared. Dateline was also unable to contact him for this report. The New York Police Department confirmed to Dateline they have spoken with the man Kassandra told her cousin she was going to go see, but could not comment further.
As the three-month marker of Kassandra’s disappearance nears, Ingrid says she’s confident her daughter did not walk away of her own free will.
“She did not have credit cards, a passport, or a car,” Ingrid said. “She did not even have a driver’s license.”
When Kassandra didn’t return home by her son Ethan’s sixth birthday -- the week after she disappeared -- Ingrid says her fears were further confirmed.
“She was getting her life together for her son. She wouldn’t leave New York. She told me she wouldn’t go anywhere without her son,” Ingrid said. “Some people have told me, ‘Well, what if she is not with us anymore?’ Well, then she needs to be at peace. She needs to be at peace.”
Kassandra’s son Ethan is currently staying with his paternal grandmother.
Kassandra Ramirez is described as being 5'2" tall and weighing 130 pounds with dark hair. She was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans and black sneakers. Anyone with information on Kassandra’s disappearance is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.