Adults have the right to go missing, but do they have the right to go missing under suspicious circumstances? This is a question Alicia Gazotti has been asking herself for nearly a month since she stopped hearing from her daughter Mercedes Clement. Since the disappearance of her daughter, Gazotti has been pursing every possible avenue to get answers for her family. While investigators, family, and friends do their part to search for Mercedes, Gazotti is left wondering what circumstances must have befallen her daughter.
Mercedes Clement, 25, was last seen on October 11, 2020 around 11:00 in the evening, going into the apartment of an acquaintance on Empire Drive in Dallas, Texas. Mercedes was observed on surveillance footage entering the apartment of a male acquaintance. Due to a technical glitch, surveillance was not recorded between 1:30 am and 8am. It wasn’t until she stopped responding to phone calls and text messages that Alicia Gazotti and her family became worried. Mercedes’ car was found abandoned two days later, with her personal effects, including her wallet and keys, sitting on the front seat. It’s a piece of evidence that deeply troubles Gazotti. “This isn’t like all of the sudden she went to a friend’s house and no one can find her,” Gazotti told Lauth. “This is a girl who vanished into thin air. Cell phone’s gone, girl is gone. The car’s been abandoned. This is a different situation.”
When it comes to missing adults, law enforcement has an unfortunate challenge in terms of distributing investigators and resources. After all, persons over the age of 18 have the right to disappear, if they wish. However, it is unclear to Mercedes’ family why she would voluntarily drop off the grid. Gazotti told Lauth that Mercedes had completed her phlebotomy degree and was looking forward to taking additional courses to get more certifications. She had friends and hobbies she enjoyed, like horseback riding. In addition to parents and extended family concerned for her health and safety, Mercedes is also a young mother to a 5-year-old son. While it’s true that some missing adults have made the conscious decision to disappear from their former lives, Gazotti knew that Mercedes would never just disappear and leave behind her child, “She’s a mom. She just missed Halloween. She never misses holidays with her son.”
While Mercedes has experienced difficulties with mental health issues in the past, Gazotti told investigators that in the weeks prior to her disappearance, Mercedes was making plans for the future, both within her family and with friends. “She has a pair of friends who are expecting a newborn baby, and for the last few weeks, she’s been posting all over Facebook that she was looking for a good car seat for them, and she was so excited to give them that gift after the baby was born.”
Mercedes’ family is currently trying to raise money to fund the search for her and to offer a reward for her safe return. You can donate to the GoFundMe here. To help spread awareness of Mercedes’ case and keep her face in the public eye, you can go follow the Facebook page, Missing Person: Mercedes Clement.
Mercedes Clement is 5’6”, brown hair, brown eyes, and weighs 120 lbs. She has a C-shaped birthmark on her chin resembling a bruise. She has a thin build and was last seen wearing a black, spaghetti-strap tank top and shorts. Anyone with information can call the Dallas Police Department at 214-671-4268 with report number 191586-2020. You can also call the Lauth confidential tip line at 830-253-4070.