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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turney

Missing: Celina Mays

Missing: Celina Mays

12-year-old Celina Mays went missing from Willingboro, New Jersey, on December 16, 1996. Celina was reported missing, but her disappearance wasn’t really treated as a potential crime by her family or local law enforcement. In fact, it took days for police to find out perhaps the most important detail – 12-year-old Celina was pregnant and due in only two weeks.


Now, it’s been over 25 years, and Celina is still missing. But what they’ve found out about her life leading up to that day paints a dark, sinister picture of what her fate could have been.


Anyone with information about Celina Mays is asked to call The Willingboro Police at 609-877-3001 or NCMEC at 1-800-TheLost.


1577DFNJ - Celina Janette Mays. 1577DFNJ - celina Janette Mays. (n.d.). 

Anderson, B. (1997, January 26). Relatives optimistic after reported citing. Courier-Post 26 Jan 1997, Page Page 18. 

Associated Press. (1997a, January 6). Police continue to search for missing girl, 12. Historical Newspapers from 1700s-2000s -


Associated Press. (1997b, January 11). Police continue search for 12-year-old girl. The courier-news 11 Jan 1997, Page Page 31. 

Associated Press. (1997c, January 29). Missing pregnant child believed to be alive, well . The record 29 Jan 1997, page 16. 

Austin , A. (2021, December 14). 12 years old and pregnant: What happened to celina mays?. Burlington County Times. 

Burlington County, N.J., man sentenced to 18 months in prison for defrauding charity. District of New Jersey | Burlington County, N.J., Man Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Defrauding Charity | United States Department of Justice. (2015, March 19). 

CBS Interactive. (2022, January 28). CBS3 mysteries: What happened to Celina Mays, 12 years old and pregnant, 26 years ago?. CBS News. 

Celina Janette Mays. The Charley Project. (n.d.). 

Flowers, A. (2023, July 28). Missing: Celina Mays. Crime Junkie Podcast. 

Franolich, M. (1997, February 2). No new clues in mystery of missing 12-year-old. Courier-Post 02 Feb 1997, Page Page 14. 

Historical Newspapers from 1700s-2000s - (1997, January 25).

Missing 12-year-old girl reportedly seen in Howell. The Central New Jersey Home News 25 Jan 1997, Page 3. 

In Pursuit with John Walsh. (2022, September 8). “Unforgotten.” episode. 

Lewis, M. (1997, January 13). Church supportive of girl’s aunt. Courier-Post 13 Jan 1997, Page Page 1. 

Lounsberry, L. (1997, January 29). Celina ready to give birth, cops say. Courier-Post 29 Jan 1997, Page Page 1. 

Mura, B. (1997, February 7). Police say sightings of teen were false. Historical newspapers from 1700s-2000s. 

Pearsall, R. (1997a, January 7). Pregnant girl, 12, remains missing . Historical Newspapers from 1700s-2000s - 

Pearsall, R. (1997b, January 9). Father of missing girl denies paternity. Courier-Post 09 Jan 1997, Page Page 1. 

Pearsall, R. (1997c, January 10). Urgency grows as pregnant girl might need medical help. Courier-Post 10 Jan 1997, Page Page 14. 

Pearsall, R. (1997d, January 11). Missing girl’s church embroiled in controversy. Historical newspapers from 1700s-2000s. 

Pearsall, R. (1997e, January 12). A missing girl and 2 accusing families. Courier-Post 12 Jan 1997, Page Page 21. 

Pearsall, R. (1997f, January 14). Missing girl’s home schooling largely unregulated. Courier-Post 14 Jan 1997, Page Page 9. 

Pearsall, R. (1997g, January 15). No leads in finding 12-year-old girl. Courier-Post 15 Jan 1997, Page Page 11. 

Pearsall, R. (1997h, January 17). $5,000 reward offered for missing girl. Historical newspapers from 1700s-2000s. 

Pearsall, R. (1997i, January 20). Aunt: missing girl deceived family about pregnancy. Courier-Post 20 Jan 1997, Page Page 1. 

Pearsall, R. (1997j, January 22). Boy’s family might have helped girl flee, cops say. Historical newspapers from 1700s-2000s. 

Pearsall, R. (1997k, January 24). P.O. Box opened for missing girl. Courier-Post 24 Jan 1997, Page Page 1. 

Pearsall, R. (1997l, February 6). Police say lead on missing girl false. Historical newspapers from 1700s-2000s. 

Pearsall, R. (1997m, February 7). New lead fizzles on missing girl, 12. Courier-Post 07 Feb 1997, Page Page 11. 

Weston, D. M. (1997, January 8). Family reaches out to missing girl. Daily record 08 Jan 1997, page 6. 

Weston, R. (1997, January 30). Little Girl Lost? . Historical newspapers from 1700s-2000s. 

Yahoo! (2022, September 25). Here and now: What happened to celina mays?. Yahoo!


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