JOANNE AND Nicole DeGuio have scoured Needle Park in Kensington. They've knocked on pimps' doors and handed out condoms to prostitutes, all in the hopes of finding whatever information they can about their missing loved one, Amanda.
Amanda DeGuio, 25, is Joanne's daughter, Nicole's little sister and a heroin addict. She was last seen at her Drexel Hill home in June.
Amanda's addiction kept her away from home before, but she'd always call and check in on her mother, her sister and her two young daughters, ages 3 and 5.
But that hasn't happened this time. Her family reported her missing in August. They haven't heard from Amanda since she left home that June day. She's missed her children's birthdays, holidays and custody hearings.
Yesterday morning, Joanne and Nicole stood next to Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood at a news conference and begged for any word from Amanda or from anyone who might know what happened to her.
"We know she's in a bad way and in a bad place," Joanne said. "If she's not alive, I need to bring her home. I need to at least have an answer for her children."
Chitwood, a veteran lawman, believes Amanda is the victim of foul play. He likened her disappearance to that of Holly Maddux, who was missing for a year and a half before Chitwood, then a Philadelphia homicide detective, found her body stuffed in a trunk at Ira Einhorn's home.
"I hope I'm wrong," he said. "I hope we can get her back safe."
Amanda, a graduate of Haverford High School, dreamed of becoming a brain surgeon when she was young. But after the birth of her first daughter, she suffered an infection that required several surgeries. She became addicted to the prescription painkillers she was given and later branched out to using heroin, according to her family. She even engaged in prostitution to support her habit, they said.
But she would always call, her family said, and she would never just leave her two daughters.
"She's still a person. She's a daughter, she's a sister, she's a mom," Nicole said. "She's just a lost soul right now."
Amanda is about 5-foot-2 and 115 pounds. She has brown hair, blue eyes and tattoos, including a map of Italy and the word "Tommy," both of which are on her right torso. She also has the letters "SC" tattooed on her left ring finger.
She goes by the names "Gianna," "Adrianna" and "Stacy" and likes to wear wigs, police said.
Every day since Amanda's disappearance, Nicole, 26, has texted her mom a prayer. Yesterday, Nicole clutched a prayer card in her hands while speaking with reporters at the news conference.
But the family needs more than a prayer now.
Anyone with information about Amanda's disappearance is asked to call Upper Darby Police at 610-352-7050.