Two months before she went missing, Collingdale mother Melissa Ortiz-Rodriguez had told family and friends she wanted a divorce from her estranged husband, Jose Rodriguez, but couldn't afford one, according to court documents.
Ortiz-Rodriguez went so far as to start the process for a protection-from-abuse order against Rodriguez on Feb. 19, officials said. In her petition, she stated that when she tried to leave the home with their two daughters, ages 7 and 11, Rodriguez tore open her suitcase, threw the contents onto the front lawn, broke her cellphone, and pushed her.
However, at a March 7 hearing, she asked that the petition be withdrawn, and in a recent phone conversation with a friend, Ortiz-Rodriguez said Rodriguez "was being nice to her." She allowed him back into the home.
Then she disappeared, and investigators continue their search for her.
Ortiz-Rodriguez, 30, had planned to travel to Newark, N.J., on April 19 for a weekend visit with friends but didn't show up. Rodriguez reported her missing four days later, after she failed to show up for a new job and to pick up their two daughters from school.
She was to take public transportation to Newark, her husband said. The friends confirmed that she was expected but that they never received a call to pick her up, according to police.
Rodriguez's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, said his client denied engaging in controlling or abusive behavior. Rodriguez, he said, is "doing the best he can to be there for his children and hoping that she turns up well."
Last week, police searched the couple's Collingdale home; a residence in Ocean Township, N.J.; Rodriguez's pickup truck; and a truck he uses for his job at Amtrak.
One of the items they were looking for was her journal, according to court records.
Friends told police that in conversations with Rodriguez he made references to the journal and that they believed he has possession of it, according to court documents.
Diamondstein said only that a journal was turned over to police.
According to the court documents:
On Feb. 25, Ortiz-Rodriguez texted a friend: "He read my secret journal." She also said "he confirmed the baby."
Ortiz-Rodriguez had discovered her husband had another family in Ocean Township, N.J., when a bill for an infant car seat and bottles arrived at their home. When she confronted Rodriguez, he moved out.
She also wrote in her journal about dating a Morris Plains, N.J., man.
"It is fairly clear from the evidence that both had moved on," Diamondstein said.
Ortiz-Rodriguez is 5-foot-5 and weighs about 130 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to contact Collingdale police at 610-586-0502 or Delaware County detectives at 610-891-4700.