Re’Chelle Turner, Moriah Ballard
November 3, 2023
Every day we hear from families whose loved ones are missing. We spend part of our mornings at KPRC talking about what is being done to find the person and the latest in the search and recovery efforts.
In the past few weeks, the case of Deundrea Ford has been discussed a lot in our newsroom.
We have spoken about things that happened in her past, details about her disappearance, and what the police are doing to find her.
KPRC 2′s Re’Chelle Turner found out Ford’s family is not alone and that thousands of Black women are still missing.
“At the end of the day, we want Deundrea back. We want answers,” Kevin Carrier said.
Carrier said it is now his mission to keep telling the world about his niece Deundrea Ford.
Sept. 21, 2023, is the last time anyone saw Deundrea. There is surveillance video of her leaving the Diva’s Bikini Bar and Grill where she had worked for two weeks and getting into a white van with a man.
“I do not want people to get it construed or twist anything. That all spiraled from text messages that she sent out saying that she was ready to be picked up and ready to go home. And for whatever reason, she elected to find another way home,” Carrier said.
Carrier added that police in another state detained a suspect but later released him.
A quick Google search of Deandrea Ford’s name shows headlines, highlighting a different crime from her past.
We spoke to Andy Kahan, Director of Crime Stoppers about the case.
“First, you have a witness in a capital murder case that has gone missing, and to me that always sends red flags up. The way she did go up missing, again red flags go up. So, it is disturbing to me that nothing has been either reported on her whereabouts or what happened. Right now, from looking at it objectively and from the reports that I have seen, I would easily make the speculation that she went missing as a result of criminal conduct,” Kahan said.
Ford’s uncle believes that “criminal conduct “is not connected to her disappearance and is just a distraction.
“It was a drastic narrative spin,” he said. “Everyone out there has a loved one that could fall into this category. You would hope that the attention would be on finding that person and returning them home safely.”
The Black and Missing Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises awareness around missing persons of color, gave us the following data:
- 546,568 people were reported missing in 2022
- 57% are white which includes Hispanics
- 39% are people of color
Co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, Natalie Wilson, gave additional insight to those numbers and what her group is doing to combat this drastic reality.
“What we are finding is that many times in newsrooms across the country, there is no policy in place to determine who gets the media coverage. So I can call, and my neighbor could call, and we could get two different responses. So, if you have a policy in place, then there is no inherent bias as to who gets that coverage and again it’s humanizing the individual. Deundrea is a person who has a family that is searching for her,” she said.
So, what is stopping Deundrea Ford’s case from getting our attention?
“I do believe nowadays, it’s sad to say, your complexion brings about the attention that you get, whether it’s good or bad circumstances nowadays,” Carrier said.
“I would throw it back on where you work, and the media. The media is the one that determines who ends up getting on the news. To me, everybody should be treated the same and it should be the same amount of attention. I do not care who you are, what age you are, what race you are or ethnic background, but the ultimate deciding factor is the media,” Andy Kahan added.
The Black and Missing Foundation also pointed to the impact newsrooms have across America and how desensitization or criminal backgrounds may impact disparities in media coverage.
This is a conversation that is ongoing in our newsroom now about how we cover crime in our community.
As for Ford’s family, they said they are not letting her case go cold. Deundrea turned 22 on Oct. 24, and her family hopes she will not be “just another missing Black woman.”
“I want my niece home. Her son wants his mom home. My niece wants her sister home. My mother wants her granddaughter home. It is just that simple,” Carrier said. “I believe she is still alive, and I will carry the hope until told otherwise.”
Houston police said they are still investigating Ford’s case.
Carrier believes the man who gave his niece a ride is a regular customer and someone who works there knows something.
Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers says in order for them to issue a reward, they must hear from detectives first.
If you have any information about this case, you are asked to contact Houston police.
Photo credit: KPRC