But dreams rarely pay the rent. So Ms. Fernandes worked three jobs, at three Dunkinâ€™ Donuts stores in northern New Jersey, shuttling from Newark to Linden to Harrison and back. She often slept in her car â€” two hours here, three hours there â€” and usually kept the engine running, ready in an instant to start all over again.
The last day of her life was no different. She got off work at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, and climbed into her 2001 Kia Sportage, officials from the Elizabeth Police Department said. She was dreaming again, this time about taking a break to celebrate a milestone with friends. But first, she told her boyfriend, Mr. Carter, during a brief cellphone conversation, she was going to take a nap.
She pulled into the parking lot of a Wawa convenience store, reclined in the driverâ€™s seat and closed her eyes. The storeâ€™s surveillance camera videotaped her arrival at 6:27 a.m.
Detectives would pore over those tapes after her body was found later that day. It was the last image that anyone would see of her alive.