Jan. 3, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
A Jackson Heights resident has at last been reunited with her custom wheelchair after it was stolen on Christmas Day from outside her home.
Police, along with local officials, returned the $5,000 wheelchair yesterday to Michelle Molina, an 18-year-old with Rett Syndrome and scoliosis, after it was cut from its chains outside her 77th Street apartment on Dec. 25.
Officers from the 115th Precinct found the wheelchair in a nearby park on Tuesday after days of searching and canvassing, according to reports, in an incident that sparked outrage locally and citywide.
Antonia Molina, Michelle’s mother, said she kept the chair chained up outside their apartment because it was too heavy to bring up into the home.
“She relies on it on a daily basis, so we wanted to get the investigation done as quick as possible and provide some closure for this family and reunite her with the wheelchair,” NYPD Officer Tyler Scala said to reporters yesterday.
While the wheelchair was returned yesterday, police made an arrest in the case on Dec. 31, with Minera Martinez, a 34-year-old identified as a homeless woman by reports, now facing charges of grand larceny, criminal trespass and more.
Council Member Francisco Moya, who joined police in returning the wheelchair to the Martinez Molina family, took to Twitter to congratulate the 115th Precinct on their job well done.
“It’s reprehensible to steal a wheelchair, especially from someone like Michelle who suffers from Rett Syndrome and depends on it—on Christmas night no less,” he said, later adding, “I hope this brings some relief to Michelle and her family.”
Michelle’s family, according to ABC 7, said the wheelchair was found at just the right time to allow her to return back to school after the winter break.