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Norelis Mendoza, missing mother of 2, found dead in Bayonne

Police investigating death of New Jersey mother Norelis Mendoza
Police investigating death of New Jersey mother Norelis Mendoza 01:45

BAYONNE, N.J. -- Police are investigating the death of a New Jersey mother whose body was discovered on the side of the highway.

Loved ones gathered Wednesday to remember Norelis Mendoza. The mother of two was last seen leaving her mother's Montgomery Street home Saturday night.

"We didn't know who she went out with at the time. We didn't know if she got in a vehicle, if she walked anywhere," said Geovanni Molina, the victim's cousin.

Molina says her mom reached out a few hours later and got no response. By Sunday morning, Mendoza's phone was going straight to voicemail.

"After a certain time, like, where's Mom, why is she not checking in, why isn't she coming here? And it's Mother's Day, above everything else," Molina said.

Loved ones say this was out of character and called police. A be on the lookout alert was initiated on Mother's Day.

"It's a nightmare. Absolutely devastated," Molina said.

On Wednesday, Mendoza's lifeless body was found in a wooded area off Route 440 near the Bayonne-Jersey City border. Her death has been deemed suspicious.

"A 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, they don't get to see their mother anymore. They didn't get to spend Mother's Day with their mom," Molina said.

Family tells us the 32-year-old was spotted with someone on surveillance video the night she went missing.

"We know that they were in the downtown Jersey City area. That's as far as we know as far as information. We don't know exactly where. We don't know where they went afterwards," Molina said. "The family is absolutely devastated. This should not happen."

Mendoza's cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner's office.

This is joint investigation between the Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County prosecutor's office.

Anyone with information is urged to call police.

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