TAYLOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — More than two months after finding their 15-year-old daughter missing and the screen of her bedroom window cut, Tina and Ramon Alvarado can finally sleep.
"She's back. She's alive," Mrs. Alvarado said on a Facebook Live video Friday.
Gloria, now 16, is back home thanks to a private investigator from Mississippi getting involved in the case and convincing people who may have been hesitant to talk to police, to share information with him after Gloria's parents hired him to help find the girl.
James Terry of Gulf Coast Investigation started with talking to Gloria's friends with permission from their parents.
"A lot of this has to do with race and because these children and these parents were either African Americans or Puerto Ricans or minorities in the inner city, they did not want to go to the police," said Terry, who is white. "They had seen some of my background as a football player in college, at a historically Black college, so they gave me a shot as well. They started opening up to me."
Terry, who worked the case from Mississippi, said one of Gloria's friends told him that a boy had been visiting Gloria at her window.
Taylor Police released video taken from a Ring door camera that showed a car pulling up to the Alvarado's home the night Gloria went missing on November 1, 2020.
Believing clues would be found on earlier Ring footage, Terry said he asked Mrs. Alvarado to get additional video from the neighbor's camera prior to the day they discovered she was gone.
"I found on October 23rd at 11:15 at night, a car came, a very nice car," said Terry, adding that this time the car pulled into the neighbor's house with the camera and someone exited the vehicle before it drove away.
Terry said the person who exited the vehicle walked to Gloria's window and Terry was aware that Gloria had told friends that she had a boyfriend.
Terry said he and Taylor Police Det. Andrew Snavely were able to determine that the teen had been using Uber and Lyft to get a ride from his home in Inkster to visit Gloria in Taylor.
"This is a 17-year-old boy who looks like could be a power forward for the Celtics. So he did not look like he was 16-years-old," said Terry who then tried to determine how the teen could have helped Gloria out of her window without causing the rideshare driver to be alarmed.
It's believed the teenage boy told each rideshare driver that he didn't need them to wait, according to Terry.
"He was intelligent and he had visited other girls he liked the same way with Uber," Terry said. "I knew other girls he had visited using Uber."
But relatives of the teenage boy had already told the Alvarados that the rumors of his involvement couldn't possibly be true because he doesn't have the means to travel.
"His aunts and grandparents are telling me, 'The cops are on him because he's black and we know for a fact he couldn't get over there,'" Terry said, recalling his conversation with the boy's family. "They didn't know he was using Uber or Lyft, nobody does, because he had a prepaid debit card, a cell phone, and a rideshare app."
On the morning Gloria's parents realized she was missing and could be in danger, Mrs. Alvarado went to wake Gloria up and noticed she was gone, the window was open, and the screen had been cut.
Gloria's phone was found on her bed along with a couple items that had been on the ledge of the window that was open.
Taylor Police quickly determined that Gloria had not been abducted, but they needed to locate the teen because she still could have been in danger.
The family's private investigator details what he believes happened the night before the Alvarados discovered their daughter was gone, beginning with that teenage boy.
"He told the vehicle (Uber or Lyft) to go, talked to her (Gloria) at the window, waited until the coast was clear, cut the window, helped her down, walked to the end of the street, and called a second Uber or Lyft," Terry said.
Terry was able to gain the confidence of the teenage boy's great-grandmother and an aunt who went to the location where it was suspected that Gloria had been staying, and Terry urged them to take Gloria to the Walmart in Taylor and turn her over to some of his associates with whom she'd be safe.
But, first, Terry told the women that he wanted to talk to the girl. He had to confirm it was Gloria they had in the car with them.
Terry said the girl he spoke with was able to detail things only Gloria would know, including birthmarks and items that were in her bedroom.
Terry said he asked the teen if she was in danger or needed medical attention. He said Gloria told him no and that she felt safe but she was scared.
Terry alerted Taylor Police who had two detectives in plainclothes waiting at the Walmart. Sgt. Frank Canning was one of them.
"When I turned the corner and saw her standing there, it was a sigh of relief," said Sgt. Canning. "I was a little emotional. I have a 15-year-old at home."
Police contacted the Alvarados and they were finally able to tell them what they had waited so long to hear - that their daughter was alive and safe.
Terry applauds the work of Det. Snavely who we're told had been sick throughout much of the investigation but he still managed to work the case that is far from over.
Sgt. Canning said their investigation, which includes federal agencies, is starting from the beginning to determine who, if anyone, could be charged in the case.
Anyone interested in contacting James Terry of Gulf Coast Investigation can call (813)993-2242.