Left: Monique circa, 1990
Right: Age Progressed to age 38
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: March 29, 1990
Missing From: Albany, Albany County, New York
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: September 11, 1978
Age: 11 years old
Height and Weight: 4’11” and 90 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Hispanic Female, Black hair, Brown eyes, Monique has a birthmark on the back of her right leg and gaps between her teeth, her nickname is “Pebbles” and she might use the last names “Castro” and Graniela
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A turquoise blouse, blue jeans, and black shoes
NCMEC Number: 741122
Details of Disappearance
Monique was last seen in Albany, New York on March 29th 1990. She was last seen at approximately 8:00 am as she prepared to leave for school. Her mother, Annie Graniela, was at work when she received a phone call from Monique at 12:00 pm. Monique said she missed the school bus and would stay home for the day. She returned to the residence during the evening hours and discovered that Monique was missing.
Graniela waited 8 hours to report her daughter missing because she thought investigators would not take the report unless the child had been missing for an extended period of time. Investigators started to search for Monique but found no evidence due to the period of time it took to report her missing. Authorities suspect that Monique was abducted by a stranger and possibly killed afterwards.
Investigators have looked at the possibility that Monique’s stepfather may have known someone who could’ve been involved in her presumed abduction. He was in prison at the time of her disappearance. Investigators considered that he may have gotten into an altercation with an inmate and that the inmate abducted Monique to get revenge towards him. They later determined that his prison sentence had no relation to her disappearance.
It should also be noted that Monique and her mother relocated to Albany from New York City after a murder occurred in front of their residence. It’s possible that Monique might have witnessed the crime but they have no evidence that the murder is connected to her case.
Child killer, Lewis Lent, has been investigated for possible involvement in Santiago’s case. He was convicted of murdering Massachusetts child, Jimmy Bernardo, a 12 year old boy who was murdered in 1990 and was also charged with killing 12 year old Sara Wood who was abducted and killed in New York in 1993. Her body has never been recovered.
Investigators have attempted to see if Lent could be involved in other cases. He’s a suspect in the 1992 Massachusetts disappearance of 16 year old James Lusher who disappeared while riding his bike to his grandmothers home. Lent has since confessed to the crime and led investigators to a pond where he allegedly disposed of the body. James has not been found.
Lent is also considered a possible suspect in the 1985 New York disappearance of Karen Wilson, the 1986 New York disappearance of Tammie McCormick, and the Maine disappearance of Kimberly Moreau.
Investigators have not found any evidence that Lent was involved in Monique’s case. An adult male who was acquainted with Monique admitted to taking her to the State University of Albany campus about 5 days before her disappearance. He did not have permission from Monique’s mother to take her there. He had seen Monique in the parking lot on Central Avenue and felt sorry for her. He purchased her snacks at the school cafeteria. He admitted to secretly masturbating while she waited in line.
He was questioned in her disappearance less then two days after she went missing. He signed a typed written statement. He was not charged in Monique’s disappearance and maintains his innocence in her case. He does not have a criminal record and stated some of his admissions were fabricated by investigators.
Both of Monique’s parents have since died from AIDS related causes. Her disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is possible in her case.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Albany Police Department 518-462-8058
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children