When 30-year-old mother Najah Ferrell didn’t show up for work at a new job on March 15 of 2019, people began to worry. When she didn’t collect her two children later that afternoon, concerns mounted further. As far as missing person investigations could deduce, it had been a morning just like any other, but Najah had vanished. More than two years after her disappearance, Najah’s story will feature in upcoming show on Discovery Plus. Could such high profile publicity finally trigger a lead that sheds light on the fate of this missing adult?
An Ordinary Day in Indiana
Najah Ferrell’s sister described her as kind and caring; she was the mother of two children, as well as three foster kids. That Friday, Najah was ready to start a new job at a Panera Bread restaurant in Indianapolis. She’d been up since 3:00 am, and has asked her fiancé to wake the children and get them to school because her shift started at 5:00 am. Later, he would tell missing person investigators that the moment Najah left the apartment was the last time he saw her. She had set off for work from their home in Avon, Indana, in a 2018 Black Nissan Altima, with a 30 mile drive ahead of her.
Najah’s mother, Paula Gholson, soon reported her daughter missing to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. She later shared, “I knew then. I said, ‘Something is wrong.’ Because that’s not Najah.” The case was later transferred to the Avon Police Department, under whose jurisdiction her last known whereabouts fell. Missing person investigations began with interviews of Najah’s fiancé, friends, family, and neighbors. Leader of the case Detective Nugent confirmed that everyone who was questioned fully cooperated with the investigators.
Missing and Endangered With Precious Time Lost
While those working the case were dedicated, Nugent shared that they came up against frustrating delays. The cell phone company were slow to respond to data requests, and an unrelated missing person case nearby left local resources thin on the ground. Najah’s mother Paula later revealed that she felt crucial time had been lost in the 48 hours that immediately followed her daughter’s mysterious vanishing.
On March 26, a breakthrough emerged and hope was reignited when Najah’s car was found abandoned in Indianapolis on Interstate 65. To the alarm of investigators and family members, some of Najah’s belongings were discovered strewn along the side of the road. However, her purse and cellphone were nowhere to be found. The hope that she may still be safe quickly faded on April 8 following a grizzly discovery. 100 miles north of Avon, a fisherman found a human foot in a retention pond at Crown Point. Realizing the greatest fears of her loved ones, the foot was confirmed to belong to Najah.
Missing Person Investigations Continue
While missing person investigations began working on the assumption that Najah Ferrell had likely been murdered, no suspects have emerged, and her family members have vowed to continue their search. The Indiana State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation are both actively involved. Authorities released the following statement: “We believe that somebody knows something about this case. We are pleading with the public to step forward with information that can help bring closure for Najah’s family and her children.” Police are encouraging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers Central Indiana, highlighting that every single caller remains absolutely 100% anonymous.
If swifter action had been taken in the 48 hours following the disappearance of Najah Ferrell, could her fate have been different? For loved ones of any missing person, knowing where to turn for additional support can be invaluable. Here at Lauth Missing Persons, we take every step to ensure that the families of those who have vanished have access to every resource possible. Alongside providing immediate expert missing person assistance, we help loved ones to set up critical Go Fund Me campaigns in order to fund their efforts. We can also advise on other organizations that offer additional support, such as The Black and Missing Foundation and National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Two decades have passed since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley disappeared without a trace. Both girls were last seen on July 6th, 2001, when their mother Tracey Bradley left for an early work shift at 6:30 am. The girls were ten and three years old respectively at the time of their unexplained disappearance.
Today, Diamond would be approaching her 24th Birthday, while Tionda would be 30 years of age. Following the realization that the two young sisters had gone missing, one of the biggest manhunts in the city of Chicago’s history was initiated. However today, the family of the two sisters continues to wait for answers in a case that—despite a number of twists and turns—has never provided much-needed closure.
The Trail Goes Cold
When Tracey Bradley returned home from work on July 6th, 2001—to the apartment she shared with her daughters near 35th and Cottage Grove in Chicago, Illinois—her two girls were nowhere to be found.
The sisters’ mother discovered a note from Tionda which said they had planned to walk to a store and Doolittle Elementary School, where the eldest was enrolled in summer school classes. Although children from the local neighborhood reported having seen the sisters playing nearby at around midday, Tionda did not attend class, and the girls were never seen again.
On the day that they went missing, Tionda’s hair was styled with green ponytail holders, and she bore the usual signs of a playful childhood—with a scrape on her left calf and a quarter-sized burn mark on her left arm. Diamond sported purple ponytail holders and was described as having a scar on the left side of her hairline at the time she went missing.
Inconclusive and False Leads
Two men were said to be of interest to the case, including a Middle Eastern man who was reported to have paid child support for one of the sisters and later learned that he was not her father. However, no conclusive evidence was ever declared to the public, nor charges brought. Not long after the sisters’ disappearance, a young girl was found—raising hopes for the frantic family—however, she was otherwise identified and reunited with her own kin.
In the spring of 2005, a body of a girl close to Tionda’s age was found in a South Side industrial zone in Chicago. Once again, the Bradley family endured the emotional roller coaster of a possible lead, however following a DNA test performed against a sample from the girls’ mother Tracey, it was confirmed that Tionda remained missing.
Eighteen years after the disappearance, a woman from Texas came forward claiming to be Tionda. Communicating with the family via text message in 2019, she claimed that she and Diamond had been abducted by a family friend. Enlisting the help of a private investigator, the Bradley family were tragically able to identify that the woman—known at the time as LayLay Rodriguez on social media—was lying. This was reportedly in part due to a missing scar.
Speaking to CBS News, the girls’ great aunt Sheila Bradley-Clark shared, “This group of scammers are not the missing Diamond or Tionda Bradley.” Meanwhile, the family expressed on Facebook, “We hope that all will continue to provide any tips as to the whereabouts of Diamond and Tionda Bradley.”
Keeping Memory of the Bradley Sisters Alive
Each year since the disappearance of Diamond and Tionda, their devoted family have gathered to stage a vigil in Chicago’s Taylor Park—both in the girls’ memory, and in the hope that answers will one day be revealed. “Some days I have dreams that I’m seeing them walking down the street,” said Diamond and Tionda’s great uncle K.D. Jones when speaking at the gathering in 2017. Last year, mother Tracey Bradley shared, “I know in my heart they’re still alive.” The FBI continues to hold the case open, but unfortunately no further developments have emerged. Periodically, the FBI has also released age progression photos that aim to suggest what Diamond and Tionda might look like today. As the family prepares to mark 20 years since the Bradley sisters’ disappearance, the truth of what happened on that fateful morning sadly remains shrouded in mystery.
Have you seen Victor Johnson? The missing Indianapolis man is Black, 6’3” with a medium build and tattoos. At 40 years old, Victor has only ever called Indianapolis home. A familiar face on the eastside, Victor’s friends and family are now missing him following a mysterious disappearance. Victor Johnson was last seen by his family near 10th Street and Oakland Avenue on March 31st.
Adults have the right to go missing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help. If a person over 18 goes missing, investigating authorities might be less inclined to prioritize it without evidence that the person went missing under malicious circumstances. After all, adults have the right to go off the grid without calling their families, but Victor’s family has reason to believe that Victor may be experiencing some level of distress. Victor’s stepfather, Crosby Swinney, told FOX59 that Victor had been struggling with hallucinations as the result of withdrawal from alcohol, and had been experiencing seizures. Swinney was the last person to see Victor on March 31st when he dropped him off at his girlfriend’s house. la
News of Victor Johnson’s disappearance has rippled throughout the eastside, leading to more than one witness coming out of the woodwork to speak to local media. A woman identified herself to FOX59 over the phone as Victor’s girlfriend, but refused to give her name. She claimed that male stranger had possession of Victor’s cell phone, because when she called it, he answered and claimed to have found the phone, but would not give his name, nor has he turned up to return the phone.
Authorities have not ruled out foul play in Victor’s disappearance. Meanwhile, his family continues their own search efforts in the streets of Indianapolis.
Anyone with information on Victor’s whereabouts should call Detective James Burton at IMPD’s Misisng Persons Branch (317-327-6160)
The family of Alexis Tiara Murphy, 17, finally have some semblance of closure after 7 years of searching for her—though the circumstances were devastatingly tragic. Alexis left her home in Shipman, Virginia to visit the nearby city of Lynchburg. She was last seen on surveillance video at a Lovingston gas station. After seven long years and multiple searches, her remains were finally discovered on a Lovingston property on December 3, 2020.
It wasn’t until February 5, 2021 that the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond was able to positively identify the remains as belonging to Alexis Murphy. In the wake of this tragic development, her family released a statement about their devastating loss, “While we have been grieving the loss of Alexis since 2013, we remained hopeful that she would be found alive and well. Alexis was the fashionista, athlete, and joker of our family; we were blessed to have loved her for 17 years, and her memory will continue to live on through us all.”
The original search conducted outside Lovingston in 2013 involved helicopters, canine units, and volunteers searching for any sign of the missing teenager. While they searched, police poured over the surveillance video from the Lovingston gas station. Police were able identify a person of interest on the surveillance video, Randy Taylor, 48. Taylor was arrested following the discovery of one of Alexis’s hairs in his camper. Despite Taylor’s insistence that he only knew Alexis for a brief time when she offered to help him buy marijuana, Taylor was convicted of her murder in 2014. In a statement, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office stated “With the comprehensive investigation, successful prosecution by the Nelson County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, and the recovery of Alexis, this case is now no longer active.”
Amid civil unrest and a global pandemic, a community is crying out for help in finding their missing loved one. The people in Chenell Gilbert’s life are coming together on the west side of Indianapolis in search of the beloved substitute teacher who went missing on June 9.
The search party was organized by Danyette Smith, who told RTV6, “We need answers. We want to know where she is and we’re out here to today to look for her and hopefully find something that can give us answers to where she is.”
Volunteers are out pounding the pavement, handing out flyers bearing a picture of Chenell and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance to business owners and even leaving them under the mats outside Indianapolis homes, and sharing her story feverishly on social media—anything to keep Chenell’s face in the media amid a global pandemic and global unrest.
Chenell, a loving mother and grandmother, was last seen in the Sungate subdivision near Rockville and Girl School Roads in the first few hours of June 9. “For her children, her friends, her family—this is so unlike her,” Smith told RTV6. “This is just not her. They are extremely weary. We just need answers…On behalf of her daughters, her daughters truly miss her. They cannot wait until she returns home and each hour, each moment is agonizing and definitely scary for them.”
Chenell Gilbert was last seen wearing a black sweatsuit, with a black tote purse and braided hair. The group is asking anyone with information to contact police immediately so Chenelle can be reunited with her children and grandchildren.
All open missing person cases right now are facing a difficult challenge of maintaining media attention. Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been taking media attention away from vulnerable missing persons. However, “There is a full community, a full force. There’s power behind this and we’re here to use that power to look for her,” said Danyette Smith. Anyone with information on Gilbert’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at 317-327-3811 or Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.
Right after his daughter, Kierra Coles, Joseph Coles began living out of his car, keeping vigil in front of the building where she leaved, waiting for her to come home. But in the two years since her disappearance, Coles says that investigators have recently hit a brick wall in the search for Kierra, a then-26 year-old postal worker who was pregnant.
Kierra Coles was last seen leaving her apartment on the morning of October 2, 2018. She lived alone in the apartment on 81st street, and had just moved to the area less than four months ago, according to her mother, Karen Phillips. Kierra was in regular contact with her family, especially her mother. When she didn’t hear from Kierra all day on October 3rd, her mother felt something was wrong, but did not react immediately. After two days of radio silence, Karen Phillips called the Chicago police to conduct a welfare check on her daughter. “I went over to her house to call the police for them to do a well-being check because I had seen her car. So I said, okay she’s probably just in there, maybe she’s asleep or – I don’t know, I just didn’t feel right,” Phillips told the Pittsburg Courier.
The key piece of evidence so far in the case is surveillance footage recovered from a neighbor’s camera, which captured a person believed to be Kierra leaving the building, dressed for work in her postal carrier’s uniform. This has puzzled investigators a great deal, as Kierra called in sick to her job that morning, but still left the apartment dressed for work. The CCTV footage captured Kierra walking up and down the street in front of her building, past her car, before walking out of frame for the last time. Law enforcement and family members have been hoping to find similar CCTV footage that would illuminate more of Kierra’s movements, but no such leads have emerged. When the car was found, her cell phone and purse were inside, along with her lunch bag.
Although they now suspect foul play in the young woman’s disappearance, in the first few weeks of the search, police were not ready to deem Kierra’s disappearance suspicious. Because of Kierra’s age, there are not as many resources in place to locate her—not to mention that adults in the United States, for all intents and purposes, do have the right to go missing if they wish. However, Kierra’s family does not think that she vanished over her own accord, especially given that she was pregnant with her first child.
According to the National Institutes of Health, intimate partner violence affects roughly 300,000 pregnant women every year in the United States. Even more staggering, it knows no sociological boundaries. It affects pregnant women of all ages, colors, education, and religions. Heightened emotions and changes in body chemistry can already be triggers for depression, anxiety, and maladaptive behaviors such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol during pregnancy. It can also trigger intimate partner violence, or what’s more commonly known as domestic violence. The National Institutes of Health also report that homicide is the second-leading cause of injury-related death for pregnant women, superseded only by car accidents. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported that between 1990 and 2004, more than 1300 pregnant women were murdered in the United States, most commonly by gunshot, stabbing, or strangling. More than two-thirds of these women were killed in their first trimester.
Kierra’s family has noted that they have received few updates from police since she was reported missing, but that USPS had been regularly in touch. Karen told 107.5 WGCI, “The postal inspector, he has been calling and checking in saying, ‘We are doing all we can. There’s things that we can’t tell you right now, but we’re doing all we can.’ I’m just guessing they just want to have facts together, they don’t want to give me bits and pieces.” The USPS has offered a $25,000 reward for anyone providing information that leads to Kierra’s safe return, and has been assisting in the investigation since it opened. As Kierra’s case continues to garner national attention, non-profits such as Black and Missing have placed Kierra’s name, picture, and case information on their website in hopes of spreading her story throughout the country.
Anyone with information on Coles’ whereabouts should call Area South detectives at (312) 747-8274.