Noelvin, a 3-year-old from Florida, was found sleeping in a box on a stranger's porch in Buffalo. His parents are missing. (Buffalo Police Department)

She had left the cardboard box on her porch for stray cats. But when Lois Augsburger headed out the door to pick up the newspaper the next morning, she found a little boy sleeping inside.

“It was heartbreaking,” she told WGRZ outside her Buffalo home. “Heartbreaking. I started crying. I’ve been crying all day wondering about this little baby.”

The Monday morning discovery was the start of a mystery that continues to puzzle police in western New York. Authorities identified the parents of the 3-year-old boy as Nicole Merced Plaud and Miguel Anthony Valentin-Colon of Orlando. But they haven’t been able to find them — or a family friend, Dhamyl Mirella Roman-Audiffred.

And hours after Augsburger stumbled upon the little boy, named Noelvin, police made another shocking find about a mile away: a burned-out car with what appeared to be human remains inside. The torched car, found behind a storage company in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood, gave new weight to something the toddler had told Augsburger.

“I asked him, ‘Where’s your mommy, honey?' ” she recalled, according to WIVB. “He said, ‘The car’s on fire, the car’s on fire.’ That’s all he kept saying.”


Nicole Merced Plaud and Miguel Anthony Valentin-Colon are missing, along with a friend. Their 3-year-old was found on a stranger's porch in Buffalo. (Buffalo Police Department)

Authorities have yet to link the boy and the charred car, which is so badly damaged that investigators have been unable to determine even its make and model. During a Tuesday news conference, Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said it would “take some time” for the medical examiner’s office to identify the remains found inside.

“The vehicle was badly, badly damaged from the fire, almost to the point that we cannot tell what type of vehicle it is or the contents of the vehicle,” he said. “The fire definitely burned extremely long, extremely hot and extinguished itself, which left little remnants of the vehicle.”

Already, the missing couple’s family fears the worst. Zenaida Colon, Valentin-Colon’s mother, told WIVB that he, Plaud and their son had traveled to Buffalo with their friend. Colon, who flew to New York from Orlando on Monday to try to get custody of her grandson, said her family hadn’t heard from her son since Sunday.

Now, she worries the remains found inside the car are those of the couple.

“I’m hopeful that we have a good outcome to this, but if we don’t, at least we have peace of mind that they’re there or they’re not,” she said. “The sooner, the better.”

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