Things That Matter

Paola Miranda Was Last Seen in Orlando River Before She Disappeared, Now Her Family Pleads for Answers

We often hear tragic stories of missing persons whose disappearances turn their families desperate for answers. But this one stands out from the rest.

On December 18, 2021, witnesses saw what has now been confirmed to be 31-year-old Paola Miranda waded into a lake in Wekiwa Springs State Park, just outside of Orlando. They recorded the strange scene and later turned in the video to authorities. A few days later, Miranda’s abandoned car was found at Wekiwa Springs State Park on December 21.

Despite authorities crawling the park with drones, boats, specialized equipment, volunteer search parties and dogs, Miranda remains missing. And now, her family is pleading for any information about their lost loved one.

“Don’t be afraid to share it, even if it’s wrong… We want her home,” her sister, Andrea Miranda, told Fox 35 Orlando. “Paola, we love you! We want you home!”

The last time Miranda’s family saw her was December 17, when she was having lunch with her mother, her uncle and her grandmother. But after that family gathering, Miranda’s family wasn’t able to contact her for days. It was after two days of radio silence from Miranda that the family plastered missing person posters all over Orlando, FL.

According to authorities, Miranda was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and had threatened to hurt herself in the past.

Yet, according to her family, she was not suffering from an episode at the time of her disappearance. In fact, they say that she was excited for the future, and was tidying up her house because relatives from Puerto Rico were staying with her for the holidays.

“She had cleaned her house, cleaned the guest bedroom, set everything up because they were going to stay with her,” Andrea Miranda said in an Instagram Live interview with the Miya Marcano Foundation, who is helping them with the investigation. “So there’s just so many things she had been looking forward to here in Orlando.”

On January 7, authorities used underwater technology to search Wekiwa Springs State Park for any sign of the 31-year-old. But they came up empty-handed.

“We did walk off a little into the woods, and canvassed both sides, and used a drone, we just didn’t see any signs of anything, and we’re really comfortable to say that she’s not in that waterway,” Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez told Spectrum News 13. “We’ve pretty much done everything humanly possible here… if she did get out of this car and someone has any knowledge of her whereabouts, that’s what we’re gonna rely on now.”

Since her disappearance, Miranda’s family has done all they can to find her, including setting up a GoFundMe fundraiser in order to hire a private investigator with the proceeds.

“[We found the car] on the first day that we assembled a group of people, within two hours,” Andrea Miranda told the Miya Marcano Foundation. “It was up to the family to get information, but how far can we get? We can’t get very far, we can only do so much. We called, we asked, we did whatever we could.”

The foundation is helping the community organize to help put pressure on authorities to put more resources into this case, and on neighboring businesses to release camera footage that may help the investigation.

If you have any information on the whereabouts or what happened to Paola Miranda, please call the Osceola County Sherrif at 407-348-2222 or Paola’s family at 407-455-1294.

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