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Missing mother remains mystery for 18 years
Arisoneide “Neide” Oliveira Gosselin disappeared from her home at 2755 Jeannie Court on May 28, 1992. - photo by Photo Contributed
Arisoneide “Neide” Oliveira Gosselin disappeared from her home at 2755 Jeannie Court on May 28, 1992. She was 31 years old at the time of her disappearance.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Neide is encouraged to contact Turlock Police Detective Brandon Bertram at 668-5550 ext. 6623.
The morning of May 28, 1992, was just like any regular day for Aline Gosselin. The 9-year-old girl dressed for school, ate her cereal, gathered up her homework and headed out the front door, unaware that she would never step foot in that house again and that the good-bye she and her mother exchanged that morning would be their last words spoken to one another.
When she returned home hours later her entire world had shifted. The house was empty and locked and her mother, Arisoneide Oliveira Gosselin, was gone, seemingly vanished.
The question of what happened to the 31-year-old Turlock woman that everyone called “Neide” has haunted her daughter for 18 years and baffled police investigators assigned to the case.
“It’s kind of strange to talk about it after all this time,” said Gosselin, now 27. “For so many years as a child, I just figured she would be back or somebody would find her. Now, I just feel confusion. How does someone just disappear? I don’t know if I’ll ever have an answer.”
The quest for an answer has also eluded Turlock police detectives. Detective Brandon Bertram, who recently took over the case, said there was little physical evidence present in the investigation to provide any leads. Rumors of a troubled marriage and shady people connected to her husband were the only leads investigators have had to pursue.
“It is a very suspicious disappearance that causes us to believe there may be a criminal nature to it,” Bertram said. “You had a mother who wouldn’t just depart from her 9-year-old child willingly and that was the most compelling factor that her disappearance was suspicious.”
Neide was, by her daughter’s account, a quiet woman devoted to her faith and family. She was born in Brazil and it was there that she met the man that would become her husband. Matthew Gosselin was born in the States, but moved to Brazil at a young age when his family answered a call to serve as Jehovah Witness missionaries. The young couple formed a bond in their shared faith and wed when they were 21, welcoming baby Aline soon thereafter. Two years later, the young family packed up their lives and resettled in America, eventually making their home in Turlock.
Neide’s native tongue was Portuguese and to learn her new home’s language, she turned to her favorite singer — Elton John.
“She loved Elton John and had all the old vinyl records,” Gosselin said. “I can remember her playing a song, then she would stop it, write the lyrics down, say them out loud, and then do it all over again. She taught herself English this way.”
Gosselin has some fond memories of her mother and father as a couple — like seeing them slow dance in the living room to Bryan Adams’ “Please Forgive Me.” But she also has memories of darker times — times when a marriage and a life were spiraling down.
Gosselin said her father was a man striving for perfection within himself and she believes it was this internal pressure to be the perfect family man, provider, and Jehovah Witness that drove him to find an outlet for the stress — one that he found in heroin.
“There were times when he was living a double life,” Gosselin recalled. “He would be this perfect dad and husband, and then he would disappear for days. My mom would put me in the car and we would go out driving around town looking for him.”
Matthew Gosselin declined to be interviewed for this story.
It was during this downward time that Gosselin said her father began associating with some individuals of questionable character. It was also during this time that her mother went missing.
Gosselin said she remembers that day with a vivid clarity. “I still know exactly what that day looked like.”
Gosselin and a playmate traded off playing at each other’s house on Thursdays and on May 28, 1992, it was Gosselin’s turn to visit her friend’s house. Dusk was falling and the girls had just finished watching a baseball game at Pedretti Park. The family went to drop her off at her home at 2755 Jeannie Ct., but found the home strangely empty.
“The house was locked and her car was still there,” Gosselin recalled. “We went around into the backyard and I could see her keys and wallet on the kitchen table, but she wasn’t there. Other than her not being there, nothing else looked odd.”
Gosselin went back with her friend and waited for a call from her mother that would never come.
Detective Bertram said the neighbors called the police department around 11 p.m. that night to report Neide missing. Officers made entry into the home and found it empty. They also could find no explanation for her absence.
Over the course of the next few days, investigators interviewed her husband, her family in Brazil and her church friends, but no one could offer a reason for her disappearance. She was last seen by some neighbors in the early afternoon. From there, all traces of her vanished.
“Nowadays, it’s rare for people to just vanish completely,” Bertram said. “We can track their cell phones, their ATM use and the GPS in their vehicle. But back then, we didn’t have all these options.”
A search effort was initiated and flyers with Neide’s passport picture were circulated around town, but no substantial leads ever surfaced.
The day after Neide’s disappearance, her daughter was sent to live with family in the Bay Area and went on to stay with a series of relatives and friends over the next several years. She said contact with her father became sporadic during this time as he fell deeper into his drug addiction.
“I don’t remember feeling really worried at first,” Gosselin said. “I guess I always just thought she would come home sometime. When we got the first call that a body matching her description had been found, I started thinking differently. It turned out that it wasn’t her, but that was when I started thinking she wasn’t going to come home.”
While Gosselin may have been holding out hope for a reunion, others in her family were not so optimistic and looked with suspicion at Matthew Gosselin.
“A lot of what happened during that time was kept from me, but I remember hearing stories and theories that blamed my dad,” Gosselin said. “Some of what they said would make sense in the context they put it in, but I never believed in my heart that my dad had anything to do with her disappearance.”
When Gosselin turned 16 she went to live with her father, who she says has been clean and sober since 2002. Three years ago Gosselin became a mother herself, giving birth to her son William. It is now, as a new mother that memories of her own mother come back to her more often.
“I remember how she decorated my room with ballerinas and how she would warm my clothes in the dryer for me before I got dressed for school.
“I know that she was a real person and that this all really did happen, but sometimes it seems like she was just a dream that didn’t have a good ending.”
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.