Mother Of Missing 12-Year-Old Girl: 'I Want To Believe My Daughter Is Alive'

| by Lauren Briggs
Maria Velasco.Maria Velasco.

A missing California girl's mother is begging for her daughter's safe return home days after investigators found the girl's friend's body in a nearby ravine.

According to family and friends, 12-year-old Nelly Espinosa and her friend, 14-year-old Anna Hernandez, disappeared some time on Nov. 13, NBC San Diego reports. The friends lived near each other in the same San Diego, California, neighborhood of Grant Hill, although Nelly's mother is not sure whether or not the two were together when they disappeared.

Officials found Anna's body wrapped in a blanket on the evening of Nov. 18. She died from a gunshot wound to the torso, and investigators found the body just behind Nelly's house.

According to Anna's aunt, the family knew she had been kidnapped, but whoever did it left her body instead of asking for ransom.

"I want to believe my daughter is alive and is going to come back to me," Nelly's mother, Maria Velasco, told NBC San Diego in Spanish. "I don't want to think that my daughter is dead. I know that she is going to come back."

While police have not yet released many details of the girls' disappearances, they announced the investigation is ongoing as they continue to search for Nelly.

"She is a good girl," Velasco said. "I don't know why she left. We never had any discussions or fights or anything. She didn't even leave a note or anything. Nothing that I could say is a reason why she's not here."

A growing memorial in Grant Hill is full of lit candles and "Rest in peace" signs for Anna, according to The CW San Diego.

"The only thing I want is that my daughter comes back and nothing more," Velasco told NBC San Diego. "How much I want for my daughter to come back because I need to know where she is. That's everything. My only wish every day all day is that she comes back."

Sources: NBC San Diego, The CW San Diego / Photo Credit: Screenshot via NBC San Diego