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'I pray she's still laughing' - Aunt of missing Ansonia toddler recalls last time she saw her niece

The aunt of an Ansonia toddler is recalling the nightmare of a year since her niece went missing.

News 12 Staff

Dec 3, 2020, 11:02 PM

Updated 1,292 days ago

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The aunt of an Ansonia toddler is recalling the nightmare of a year since her niece went missing.
Vanessa Morales' aunt had her birthday this week. She says the only thing she wanted was news that her niece was headed home.
"It's hard. Each and every day I wake up praying, 'Maybe today's the day I get the phone call,'" said Jodi Jacobellis.
It has been 365 days since Ansonia police discovered 43-year-old Christine Holloway killed in her home and her 1-year-old daughter Vanessa Morales gone.
"I remember screaming, not realizing it was me, screaming, 'No! It can't be!'" said Jacobellis.
Jacobellis had gone pumpkin picking with her niece and sister-in-law about a month before. That was the last time she saw them.
"I can remember when Chrissy was pregnant with her, and she was sitting in the kitchen with me and Vanessa was kicking, and I just held her belly talking to Vanessa saying, 'I can't wait to hold you.' And that kills me to this day, that I can't hold my niece again," said Jacobellis.
Ansonia police arrested Vanessa's father Jose Morales in the killing of Holloway. They cited DNA and witness statements among the evidence.
Jacobellis says she has no doubt he is guilty of killing Holloway and taking Vanessa, despite not being charged with the latter.
"Definitely I do. Just by the way he was acting, hiding his hands from me when I was questioning him," said Jacobellis. "My honest theory, she's with a female, someone that knows Vanessa's father, for some odd reason is protecting him."
Morales has denied any involvement, though admitted he was high on PCP and didn't remember much.
One year later, Vanessa has turned 2.
For now, her family can only look to old memories hoping for a day they'll make new ones.
"She loved to laugh and I pray that she's still laughing. I pray that she's safe and whoever has her - she needs to come home now," said Jacobellis.
There is still a $10,000 reward from the FBI for information leading to Vanessa's safe return.
Tips can be reported anonymously to Ansonia Police at 203-725-1885.


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