Celina Janette Mays, a twelve-year-old girl, disappeared in 1996. She was nine months pregnant when she disappeared.
Who is Celina Janette Mays?
C.J. Mays and Lynn Marie Vitale gave birth to Celina on May 28, 1984. The two allegedly had a turbulent relationship, and domestic violence may have occurred between them. C.J., who was a musician at the time, admitted to having an alcohol and drug addiction problem. Lynn, an exotic dancer at the time, was also battling drug addiction.
Celina was raised by her mother, who overcame her addiction. Lynn died in 1994 while working as a school custodian.
Unfortunately, Lynn died of a brain aneurysm two years before Celina’s disappearance. Celina temporarily moved in with some of Lynn’s friends after that, but she eventually ended up living with her father, stepmother, and other relatives. Despite the fact that several of Lynn’s family members fought a custody battle for Celina.
C.J. was working as a bookkeeper and accountant for the Gospel of Christ Ministries Inc., where his sister was the pastor, at the time Celina went missing. As a result, Celina was raised as a church member with strict beliefs, and she was homeschooled.
Despite this, Celina, who was 12 years old at the time of her disappearance, was nine months pregnant. Due to Celina’s age, the baby’s father has never been identified; if he is, he could face rape charges.
Details of Disappearance
Celina was last seen going to bed at her aunt’s house on Crestview Drive in Willingboro, New Jersey, around 11:00 a.m. on December 15, 1996. Celina had gone to church before returning home for dinner. She allegedly told one of her cousins “Thanks for everything” at some point that evening without explaining what she meant.
Her family found out she was missing the next morning when C.J. went to her room to check on her. Pillows had been arranged beneath Celina’s blanket to give the impression that she was still sleeping, but she had vanished. She’d forgotten her prenatal vitamins, purse, and other belongings.
Celina hasn’t been seen or heard from since. She was due to give birth around the 29th of December, 1996. Celina’s mother left her a large life insurance policy, which she has been eligible to collect since the age of eighteen but has not done so.
Since Celina’s disappearance, there have been numerous possible sightings. Some of them were in Lacey Township and Hopewell Township in the weeks following her disappearance, though this is unconfirmed.
In 2000, a man in Midland, Texas, thought he saw Celina after noticing one of his employees resembled her, but the woman was soon determined to be someone else. Later in 2000, one of C.J’s friends claimed to have seen Celina near Lions Mountain, New York, but this is unconfirmed.
In December 2002, a woman matching Celina’s description was captured on a security camera in a shop in Egg Harbour Township, New Jersey. Authorities are investigating this sighting.
C.J. was uncooperative in the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance, according to police. He eventually lost contact with them in the years since Celina’s disappearance.
There were rumors at the time that one of Celina’s cousins might have been her baby’s father, so police looked into it. They repeatedly questioned her cousin, who denied knowing anything about her disappearance. The man is now an adult and married to the mother of four of his children, having fathered seven children with four different women.
Celina informed her obstetrician, whom she had last seen two days before her disappearance, that her baby’s father was her boyfriend, who was sixteen and not a member of the church. However, she never revealed his identity.
Instead, one of her aunts believes he may have been someone she met while roller skating in Camden County, New Jersey.
Despite this, police have stated that they do not know the identity of Celina’s baby’s father. Everything that has been proposed is pure conjecture.
Theories about her disappearance
C.J. suspects Celina planned her disappearance because he threatened to force her to take a paternity test after her baby was born. Another relative believes she was either murdered by her baby’s father in order to protect his family or died as a result of an illegal abortion. Some of Celina’s maternal relatives believe she was the victim of foul play.
Celina’s family has been accused of hiding her by both Lynn and C.J’s sides. Former members of Gospel of Christ Ministries, who claim the church brainwashed them, have also accused one of Celina’s aunts of hiding her. There is no evidence to support any of these theories.
Celina’s disappearance is being treated as a missing person case rather than a homicide investigation, according to investigators. Her case is still unsolved.
Willingboro Police Department 609-877-2253