This week, relatives posted on Facebook that they learned that skeletal remains found inside a black Adidas sneaker this summer belong to Alvarado.
"It is with deep sadness, pain and heartache that we inform you . . . the loss of our Beloved Sister Franchesca Milagros Alvarado," read a Facebook posting with a portrait of Alvarado outlined with images of sunshine and clouds.
"It has been confirmed from the state of New Jersey that the DNA match is our sister," said the Facebook posting.
The most recent updates followed memories that described "Cheka" as a Phillies fan who once played high school softball. She loved purple, was lefthanded, and had the "loudest laugh," wrote one friend.
A family member, in a brief telephone interview, said they learned of the connection between the disappearance and the remains earlier this week. There are still many unanswered questions, she said.
"We ask that you please keep us in your prayers as we grieve, but also thank God for our answer regardless of the circumstance," a family member wrote on Facebook.
Sgt. Adam Grossman, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Police, said authorities here are waiting for a final DNA comparison to identify the remains. Over the summer, authorities posted a picture of a sneaker that a relative of Alvarado said looked like one her sister owned.
On Aug. 6, New Jersey State Police reported that a man fishing on the beach at Corson's Inlet State Park found a a black Adidas ADI Rise 2 high-top sneaker, size 5 ½ with the skeletal remains of a right foot. The remains showed that some of the toes had been painted with nail polish.
Aside from the foot inside the sneaker, no other remains have been found, and there is no cause of death.
"At this point, it is an active death investigation," Grossman said.