Chicago’s Black and missing
January 24, 2012
The families of Yasmin Acree and sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley hopes the new series “Find Our Missing” on TV One cable network will bring in new leads to seemingly cold missing persons cases of color.
Yasmin Acree, 15, went missing from her West Side home four year ago this month. Her case garnered little national news coverage until now. Acree’s case will be featured on ‘Find Our Missing’ Jan. 25. The docu-drama series is hosted by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson
Acree, an honor student at Austin Polytech High School, never made her bed the day she was went missing, a huge red flag to her mother. What became a bigger issue in the girl’s disappearance was a padlock that was cut off the home’s basement door, the police leaving it behind and her immediate classification as a runaway, according to relatives.
“I’m a strict parent and that was one of the main priorities when you got up in the morning. You had to make your bed before you left the home. There wasn’t a day that went by when Yasmin didn’t make her bed. When I saw it not made up that day, I knew something was wrong,” said her mother Rose Starnes.
Her mother called the police three times, she said, before an officer arrived. When they left from taking the report, they left the lock at the home.
“When I came back to the house a few days later, I asked why the police didn’t take the lock. That was a missed opportunity to dust for fingerprints and everything else they needed to do,” said Rev. Ira Acree, Yasmin’s cousin.
Acree immediately called for the police to come back to the home to collect “the evidence” that should not have been left behind, he said.
The Chicago Police Department publicly admitted it initially mishandled the case.
According to the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children and the Department of Justice: 2,000 children are reported as missing to local law-enforcement daily; ff those children who are abducted, females, aged 11-17, are most likely to be victimized.; minorities equaled 65 percent of the total Non-Family Abductions; 42 percent were African American (24,444); and 23 percent were Hispanic (13, 386).
Let’s move to the South Side in 2001 when the Bradley sisters disappeared.
Diamond and Tionda Bradley went missing from their South Side home in 2001. They were ages 3 and 10 respectively. They would now be 13 and 20 years old.
The sisters’ mother, Tracey Bradley, went to work as usual the morning of July 6, 2001. She returned home a few hours later to an empty apartment on East 35th Street and Lake Park Avenue. Chicago police were called a few hours after family and friends conducted a private search, to no avail.
The immediate neighborhood, the Dan Ryan Woods, Washington Park and more than 5,000 abandoned buildings across the city yielded no results.
Their case initially garnered national attention and sparked the largest hunt in Chicago Police Department history.
The HLN’s “Nancy Grace Show” often features the sisters’ case on her show and also did a one-hour special about their disappearance. Their case was also featured on “America’s Most Wanted’s” website.
The Bradley sisters’ case is scheduled to be featured on ‘Find Our Missing’ on Feb. 8. (Disclosure: The Chicago Defender contributed to the episode.)
Their family continues to keep their case in the spotlight by holding prayer vigils and marches every July 6, the day they disappeared 10 years ago.
“We’re very grateful. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for these cases to get the needed national coverage,” said the girls’ aunt Shelia Bradley-Smith, who has become a national advocate for the missing.
Bradley-Smith said keeping their case in the national spotlight helps tremendously in keeping the girls’ disappearance case from going stale.
While there’s promise the show could bring fresh leads, she’s a little disappointed another cable channel for the Black community, which has been on air before TV One, didn’t think of the idea years ago to do a feature on cases on missing persons of color.
“I’ve been screaming for this since the babies (Diamond and Tionda) went missing. Nancy Grace, America’s Most Wanted, they all stepped up,” said Bradley-Smith, who started a weekly podcast last August, The Shelia Show, geared toward helping families of missing persons.
Thirty-year-old Latasha Nevitt, a wife and mother of three, has been missing since Oct. 15. She was last seen walking to a convenience store less than a mile away from her home in the vicinity of 107th and Loomis. Relatives said it’s out of her character to simply walk away from her family. Friends, family and community leaders scoured the South Side neighborhood, passed out flyers and made impassioned please for her safe return.
Brian Kelvin Andrewin, 16, was last seen July 1995 in Chicago. He was playing basketball with friends at a local park. He was never seen again.
The Black and Missing Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., partnered with TV One to help bring more awareness to the missing cases.
“The Black and Missing Foundation has provided an important service for information about missing people of color, and we are proud to work with them and help them further their work in the hope that we can draw more attention to this critical issue and bring new information to light for the loved ones of the missing featured in this series, and for others,” said TV One President and CEO Wonya Lucas.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of BAM FI, added “Our partnership with TV One on this new series will provide extra visibility to help law enforcement and Black and Missing Foundation, Inc bring more missing persons home. Getting the message out as broadly as possible is the best way to help find our missing persons.”
Photo credit: TV One