The family of Vanessa Guillén had their worst fears confirmed last week when the Army officially identified human remains as belonging to the missing Fort Hood soldier. Vanessa Guillén disappeared in late April 2020 from her regiment headquarters located near Killeen, Texas. Her remains were found last Tuesday in what has been described as a “shallow grave” by a river in Texas. Authorities have stated they believe Guillén was killed by a fellow soldier, prompting outcry from the community and legislators who have demanded an investigation into the oversights that contributed to this crime.
Vanessa Guillén’s missing person case has been turbulent over the last ten days, beginning with the discovery of her remains by contractors who were working on a fence near the burial site. In a ghastly discovery, investigators found human remains in multiple locations throughout the area. According to ABC13, “When authorities searched the area, they found scattered human remains that appeared to be placed into a concrete-like substance and buried.”
Following the identification of the remains of Vanessa Guillén, investigators were able to identify a person of interest in the case—Aaron David Robinson, 20, an Army Specialist serving with Vanessa Guillén at Fort Hood. Robinson died by suicide on the day authorities contacted him after Guillén’s remains were identified. While it’s clear we’ll never get to hear an explanation from Robinson himself on his alleged role in the murder of Vanessa Guillén, police have received a gruesome alleged account from his estranged girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar.
Aguilar, 22, has officially been charged with a single count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence with regards to her role in concealing Vanessa Guillén’s murder. She gave a second-hand account of Guillén’s murder based on what Robinson allegedly confessed to her when he solicited her help in burying the remains. Aguilar told investigators that Robinson had confessed he had killed Vanessa Guillén in his arms room while on post the day she went missing. He did so by striking her in the head with a hammer. According to Aguilar, he then placed her body in an box and moved the box off-base near Leon River.
Aguilar then told investigators that Robinson picked her up from a gas station and took her to the box. According to what Aguilar told investigators, she then assisted Robinson in dismembering Vanessa Guillén and placing her remains in holes in three different locations near the bridge where they were discovered by contractors last week. Aguilar’s first court hearing is Monday, July 13.
The attorney representing Vanessa Guillén’s family has stated that Guillén may have been sexually harassed before her disappearance, but Army investigators have yet to establish a connection between the alleged harassment and the murder. The family has also criticized the Army for failing to act in the weeks following Guillén’s disappearance, stating that it wasn’t until national spotlight was on the case that the investigation was able to move forward. Major General Scott Efflandt defended against these claims by saying during a press conference, “What I was able to share [with the family] was tempered by my responsibility to protect the investigation so that we could a) find Vanessa; b) prosecute those responsible for this travesty, and in the end be in a position to punish them.”
Vanessa Guillén’s death prompted many in communities surrounding Fort Hood spent their Fourth of July a little differently this year. Thousands took to the streets of Houston last Saturday, demanding justice and accountability for a fallen member of the armed forces in the days following the identification of her remains. The case has sparked outrage from citizens in different walks of life including mothers and veterans who were sickened to hear the story of the Fort Hood Soldier, and how the Army appeared to have dragged its feet when it came to investigating her disappearance and getting answers for her family.
The family of LaShaya Stine is still waiting anxiously for answers in her mysterious disappearance. LaShaya was 16 years old and living in Aurora, Colorado with her family when she disappeared in 2016. For almost four years, investigators have been trying to answer the curious questions about that night, including why would a young teen girl suddenly leave her house in the middle of the night?
LaShaya Stine was a bright and diligent student who was on the honor roll at George Washington High School in Aurora. She was on the professional track to become a nurse and devote her life to caring for others. Great things were on the horizon for her, including an internship with the University of Chicago hospital and a potential new job opportunity.
The night of July 15, LaShaya Stine was mentally preparing for that job interview the next day. When her mother, Sabrina Jones, went to bed that evening, LaShaya was still in the house. The next morning, when Sabrina went to wake her daughter for her job interview, she realized Sabrina was gone. Sabrina grabbed the phone and called her daughter’s cell number, but the line went straight to voicemail. The family combed the neighborhood looking for her, but turned up nothing. That’s when the family contacted the authorities and filed a missing person report.
Unfortunately, the investigators at the time treated LaShaya’s case as that of a runaway. It’s not uncommon, when a missing person case gets labeled as a “runaway” case, that investigators will be slow to act or less than thorough when it comes to following up with leads. Another case might be prioritized over a “runaway” case because it deals with a subject who doesn’t want to be found. It wasn’t until a week after her disappearance was reported that the police chief put a new set of eyes on the case.
CCTV footage near LaShaya’s home revealed that she was out walking along East Montview Boulevard around 2:30 am. When investigators showed the footage to her mother, Sabrina Jones said that it was likely her daughter had gone to meet someone, and had every intention to return to the house—seeing as how all of her personal effects, including her wallet and cell phone, had been left behind. The next logical step was to interview the people in LaShaya’s life, primarily her friends. HOweve,r after multiple interviews with LaShaya’s ex-boyfriend and close friends, police still had not generated any promising leads. Seeing as how the investigators had no proof of foul play, it was extremely difficult for them to move forward.
In the years since LaShaya Stine was reported missing, there have been multiple alleged sightings of LaShaya that corroborate theories that she might have become a victim of sex trafficking, such as her coming and going from motels that were known for facilitating sexwork. The witnesses claimed she was in the custody of a man who might have been transporting her across state lines. One girl who was successfully recovered from sex trafficking claimed to have been trafficked with LaShaya, and described a scar on her chest. Despite police follow up, LaShaya was never found at any of the alleged sightings.
The FBI has joined the search for LaShaya, and the case is still being investigated. If you have any sort of information regarding this case, please contact the Aurora Police Department at 303-739-6164 and Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
The Aurora Police Department, Metro Denver Crime Stoppers and FBI are offering rewards totaling $15,000 for information that helps them find LaShaya.
It’s not uncommon for women to jog alone. Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon for women to go missing while jogging or exercising.
Millions of women exercise daily while alone, and most come home safe. However, imagine your friend goes out for a jog or bicycle ride and is never seen again. Women who go missing while jogging are not an isolated event. It may be hard to comprehend, but sadly, stories like this are becoming more common in today’s society.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there are approximately 100,000 people missing in the United States right now. As of May 31, 2018, there were 19,183 women over the age of eighteen listed as missing in NCIC. Many of them go missing while jogging or exercising.
Stories like Molly Tibbets, who was abducted and murdered, make national news headlines, creating fear throughout the country. Women being attacked or kidnapped, or going missing while jogging is a nightmare we cannot run away from and one that continues to haunt families of the missing.
The Disappearance of Rachel Cooke
Our first woman who went missing while jogging is Rachel Cooke. Rachel Cooke, 19, was visiting her parents in Georgetown, Texas, during her winter break from college. No one knew that would be her last trip home. On January 10, 2002, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Rachel went out for her four-mile daily run and was last seen 200 yards from her family home. Somewhere in that short distance, the beautiful young college student with a smile that could light up the Texas plains—vanished.(Northlake subdivision in Georgetown, Texas, where Rachel Cooke vanished while taking a morning run.)
Northlake subdivision is a quiet place, about 45 minutes from Austin, where streets are named after Native American tribes and the only people there are residents and their visitors. The houses are set back on several acres of property with expansive drives. The serenity is rarely disturbed by strangers, making it a perfect storm of cirumcstances to go missing while jogging.
224 Navajo Trail was the Cooke family’s dream home, and they loved its spaciousness and tranquility. Robert and Janet Cooke raised Rachel and her little sister Joann there while Janet taught English at a nearby high school. Robert was a long-time software engineer for IBM and commuted daily to Austin. It was a place where people felt safe going outside alone and kidnapping did not happen—until Rachel.
The Cooke family’s idyllic life came to an end that fateful Thursday, but the day started like any other. Robert and Janet left early to work, and Joann went to her classes at the local high school. Rachel was enjoying her winter break as a freshman at Mesa Junior College San Diego, and her family let her sleep in.
(Rachel Cooke was last seen at her parent’s home in Georgetown, Texas on January 10, 2002.)
When the family left that morning, Rachel was asleep on the living room sofa. Her mother kissed her goodbye.
Authorities believe Rachel got up and left the home at approximately 9:30 a.m. for her morning run. She went missing while jogging that morning.
When Robert got home at 5:00 p.m., Rachel was still not there and had no contact with anyone in the family the entire day. At first, Robert was not that concerned thinking Rachel was out with her friend Shannon, who she had plans with that evening. But, as time went by, Robert began to worry. He called Wildfire, a local restaurant, Rachel sometimes worked at while visiting. To the worried father’s relief, they told him Rachel had worked a shift that evening. However, morning came and there was still no sign of Rachel, so Robert called the restaurant again. To his horror, they told him, in fact, it was another Rachel that had worked the previous night shift.
Rachel was missing—and a sinking feeling overcame her father.
In the days following Rachel’s disappearance, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search with help from hundreds of volunteers. After the initial search efforts concluded, Robert and Janet continued to organize searches on weekends.
“We carried on for nine months, but at some point, we thought we’ve done our best,” Robert told the Guardian. “If they took her 12 miles, there is no reason why they wouldn’t take her 15 miles. We could search the entire state of Texas and still not find her.”
Robert Cooke passed away in November 2014, never knowing what happened to his daughter.
(The FBI erected billboards of Rachel Cooke in the state of Texas offering a $100,000 reward for information.)
In May 2019, the FBI erected billboards throughout Texas offering a $100,000 reward for any information about the whereabouts of Rachel.
As drivers passed Rachel’s smiling face along I-35, it read “Missing but not forgotten,” and placed there on Rachel’s 37th birthday. Janet Cook saw it as a Mother’s Day gift as well. Time has not lessened the mother’s hope of finding her daughter—and at least knowing what happened.
(In 2020, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office released two suspect composites in the disappearance of Rachel Cooke.)
In 2020, for Rachel’s 38th birthday, deputies met with Rachel’s mother Janet and released two new composite sketches of potential suspects in the case.
Her mother had a remembrance ceremony at the campus of Georgetown High School where they planted a tree in memory of Rachel. Sheriff Robert Chody spoke at the ceremony to remind the public his investigators are still working the case.
Janet Cooke, who also spoke, said she is just “seeking closure” on the case. “At this point I just want Rachel and to be able to tell her sister it’s over,” she told the Statesman.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Rachel Cooke, please call the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office at 512-943-5204 or email email@example.com.
(Suzanne Morphew is missing from the small community in Maysville, Colorado, approximately 120 miles from Colorado Springs.)
An avid cyclist, Suzanne was biking near her home in Maysville, a small community in Chaffee County, approximately 120 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Her disappearance has spurred nationwide press coverage and a Facebook page with over 16,315 followers.
There have been reports that Suzanne’s bicycle was found just west of County Road 225 and West U.S. Highway 50. However, the Sheriff’s Office has only publicly confirmed a “personal item” was found that they believe belonged to the missing biker.
(Barry Morphew, Suzanne’s husband, made an emotional plea to the public offering a $200,000 reward for his wife’s safe return. Photo courtesy of Inside Edition)
Suzanne’s husband, Barry Morphew made a dramatic plea offering a $200,000 reward for the safe return of his wife. “No questions asked,” said Barry. “However much they want. I will do whatever it takes to get you back. I love you and I want you back so bad.” Barry, a volunteer firefighter is said to have been 150 miles away in Denver when Suzanne vanished.
(Suzanne Morphew has been missing from Maysville, Colorado, since May 10, 2020.)
Suzanne is a mother of two daughters and a cancer survivor. A former English teacher, Suzanne is described as “happy and active” who was always at the gym, hiking, or biking. She is loved in her community, and fliers dot the windows in the local businesses. Hundreds of volunteers have helped with the search efforts, organized by her nephew Trevor Noel, who has also become the family spokesperson.
“As time goes by, it gives us concern, but we are searching as if she is still alive and we think she could still be alive,” Sheriff John Spezze of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office told Inside Edition. In an earlier interview, the sheriff also said they are not ruling out foul play.
Initially, authorities had seized the Morphew home but confirmed on May 26, 2020, that the house has been released back to the family. Investigators have also searched a local home construction site in Salida, approximately 11 miles east of Maysville, spurring rumors that Suzanne Morphew had been located and the husband arrested. The sheriff’s office issued a press release in response to the speculation.
“In response to the widespread rumors, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office relays that Ms. Morphew has not been located and there have been no arrests in the investigation,” the release said.
Authorities say they have received over 400 tips and continue to encourage the public to call in with leads.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew, please contact the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office at 719-312-7530.
The Disappearance of Amy Bechtel
Amy Wroe Bechtel, 24, vanished on July 24, 1997, while jogging in the Wind River Mountains approximately 15 miles south of Lander, Wyoming.
(Amy Wroe Bechtel vanished on July 24, 1997, while jogging in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.)
Amy Bechtel went missing while jogging in a little hamlet of middle America. Lander, Wyoming is located in Fremont County with a population of under 8,000 people. A popular tourist destination with guest ranches, it is located just below the Wind River Mountains where people go hiking, rock climbing, and backpacking.
That Thursday morning of July 24, Amy told her husband, Steve Bechtel, that she was planning on running several errands in town after teaching a children’s weightlifting class at the Wind River Fitness Center. Steve planned to drive with his yellow lab, Jonz, to Dubois, 75 miles north, to meet his friend Sam Lightner, and scout some possible new climbing areas at Cartridge Creek.
After teaching class, Amy stopped at the Camera Connection, a photo store near her home in Lander, and then stopped by Gallery 331, where she spoke to the business owner about submitting her photographs into a competition. Amy was an amateur photographer, an avid runner, and a marathon hopeful who loved the outdoors and pristine beauty of Wyoming.
(A quaint mountain town, Lander is located in Central Wyoming just south of the Wind River Indian Reservation.)
Steve and Amy lived on Lucky Lane, a hipster community where many rock climbers live, drawn by some of the most difficult mountain walls in the United States. Lander is a quirky town with funky shops and art galleries, old school watering holes, and small home-town restaurants. Steve and Amy both worked part-time at Wild Iris Mountain Sports, a local outdoor equipment store.
The couple had just closed on a new house and were busy planning a move. Amy was also organizing a 10k hill climb scheduled for September 7. She planned that the runners would climb a series of mountain switchbacks not far from town, then jump into the Frye Lake and finish with a picnic. On the day she vanished, Amy’s “to do” list included a run and lifting, recycling, get photo mounted, get more boxes, mow the lawn, and get flyers.
John Strom, the owner of Camera Connection remembers Amy wearing a yellow shirt, black shorts, and running shoes that day. He said she seemed busy and cheerful when she left at about 2:30 p.m.
After completing several of her afternoon chores and leaving the camera shop—Amy’s life becomes that of speculation.
(Steve and Amy Bechtel with their dog Jonz.)
Steve returned from his day out with his friend at about 4:30 p.m. and found the house empty. He had returned earlier than planned and was not concerned but at about 10 p.m. he called her parents to see if Amy had driven to their house on the spur of the moment. She had not.
By 11 p.m. Steve had called the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office who sent two deputies to the house. They alerted the following shift who began to organize a search and rescue team to head out at daybreak. Steve and his neighbor Todd Skinner went to look for Amy’s car on Loop Road, a 30-mile road through the Shoshone National Forest.
(Amy Bechtel’s car was found alongside the road in Burnt Gulch, about 45 minutes from town.)
At approximately 1:00 a.m., Steve received a call that Amy’s white Toyota Tercel station wagon was found alongside the road at Burnt Gulch, about 45 minutes from town in the mountains, so he headed there immediately. Her car unlocked, the keys under her “to do” list on the front passenger seat, along with her sunglasses.
Steve and a small group began searching the woods with flashlights, calling Amy’s name. By the time the official search party arrived, a dozen people were searching for Amy and the site had not been preserved for evidence. Thinking Amy was just lost, no one could have imagined the site might be a crime scene,
For years, evidence remained elusive, and over the last two decades, law enforcement has only developed theories about what happened to her. They believe Amy left the camera shop and then went to scout the location for the 10k.
In recent years, national television and media interest in the case has waned and generated little leads that have been useful to authorities. A $25,000 reward went untouched and was eventually converted into two college scholarship funds in Amy’s name.
Fremont County Sheriff Sgt. Roger Rizor has been the lead investigator and told the Billings Gazette in 2007, that Amy’s case was cold, but it is still an open case. “I believe it was a homicide, and I believe that’s what happened on the day she disappeared.”
(Jo Anne Wroe wanders in the meadows of her log home above Red Lodge to feel close to her missing daughter Amy Wroe Bechtel. Photo courtesy of the Billings Gazette.)
As years passed, Jo Anne stopped marking the anniversaries of Amy’s disappearance with yellow ribbons. She does not have a grave to visit so she loves to meander near the mountain creek among the aspen trees and wildflowers to feel close to her missing daughter.
Amy’s disappearance has deeply affected every facet of Jo Anne’s life and that of her three other children.
“A part of me is realistic, and I’m aware that she is probably not alive,” she said. “I have learned to live with the fact that Amy is gone. But I have not accepted it, and I will not until I know what happened.”
If you have any information about the disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel, please call the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at 307-332-5611.
Kym served as CEO of the National Center for Missing Adults from 1994 to 2010 and advocating for missing persons and their families for over 25 years.
Kym has worked with national media to raise awareness and featured on Anderson Cooper Live, Greta Van Susteren, Montel Williams, the John Walsh Show, CNN, BBC, FOX, L. A. Times, People Magazine, Ladies Home Journal.
During a pandemic, it may be hard to think about anything else besides spread of infection, and the death and misfortune laid at the feed of many. The family of Julia Mann is facing an added layer of horror in these troubling times—the frightening nebulous of “what if” in the case of a missing child.
You may have never heard Julia Mann’s name before this moment, and you can thank that in part to the coverage of the world’s current global pandemic and the spread of COVID-19. Crucial coverage of the pandemic has created an unexpected challenge in media campaigns for missing persons. The key in any missing person investigation is to keep their face in the media and the public eye, and with coronavirus coverage already taking up a great deal of airtime, exposure is limited. Julia’s mother Terrie told Dateline, “I’m worried she’ll be forgotten. We’ve been living in this nightmare since February and now with coronavirus, everything has stalled. And it’s just a scary time out there right now, and I’m even more worried.”
It has now been 11 weeks since 17-year-old Julia Mann disappeared from her grandparent’s home in Watkinsville, Georgia. She was last seen by her grandfather around 10:00 on the night of February 20, 2020, just before the family settled down for the night. When her grandparents woke the next morning, Julia was gone. The only other principle details that have been released to the public is that both Julia’s cell phone and laptop went missing as well, but neither have been used since she went missing. Law enforcement appears certain that Julia left the house on her own, but because her phone and social media accounts have gone dark since her disappearance, police concerns for her safety are heightened.
With authorities claiming Julia left her grandparents’ house of her own accord, the remaining question is why? Julia’s family insists that there is no reason their daughter would have run away, and even if it were possible, she took so little with her—just the cell phone and the laptop. If this was a teenager running away from home, surely she would take more belongings with her. One very sentimental item Julia left behind was a keychain that had been a gift from her little sister, with whom she is very close.
The fact that Julia took her laptop with her when she left the house has lead authorities to consider the possibility that she was lured from the house by a predator. Julia was reportedly involved in online role-playing games. It is shockingly common for predators to use online gaming platforms to groom and lure children from their homes. Among other theories, this is just one that leads authorities to believe that Julia has very likely been met with harm.
Julia Mann is 5’3” tall, weighing around 100 lbs, has blonde hair and several ear piercings. The sheriff’s office did not release a description of what clothing Juliawas wearing at the last time she was seen, but her mother believes she was wearing a lightweight puffer jacket and blue two-toned Vans, which are the only shoes missing from her room. Her mother Terrie has said she fears her daughter is being held against her will and abused by her captor.
Anyone with information on Julia’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office at 706-769-3945.
An arrest has been made in the disappearance of Colorado missing boy Gannon Stauch.
Letecia “Tecia” Stauch has been arrested on first-degree murder charges in the disappearance of her stepson Gannon Stauch. It has been nearly five weeks since Gannon was reported missing.
According to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at a press conference, the arrest occurred on the morning of March 2, 2020, in Horry County, South Carolina. El Paso County Sheriff’s Office detectives, FBI agents, and members of the El Paso County 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office made the arrest of Letecia Stauch without incident.
Letecia will be held without bail in the Horry County Jail on the charges of Murder in the First Degree of a Child Under Twelve, Child Abuse Resulting in Death, a charge of Tampering with a Deceased Body, and Tampering with Physical Evidence. She is currently awaiting extradition back to El Paso County, Colorado.
Gannon, 11, was reported missing by Letecia Stauch on January 27, 2020, claiming Gannon had gone to a friend’s home in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood and failed to come home.
Initially, authorities called Gannon a runaway when they first asked the public to help find the little boy. But the sheriff’s office announced January 30 that Gannon was considered a missing endangered child because of his age, the time he had been gone, and his reliance on medication.
The search that was supposed to take place last Friday in the area of Highway 105 and Highway 83 was postponed and authorities announced a major development in the investigation that would be released during the press conference held at noon.
During the press conference, investigators said they believe Gannon is no longer alive and they have yet to locate him. They reiterated search efforts to locate Gannon’s remains would continue.
“Today I got the worst news and the best news,” said Gannon’s biological mother Landen Hiott had been holding out hope her son was still alive. “Obviously we know what the worst news is. The best news is that justice will be served. And I’ll make sure that justice is served because my boy did not deserve any of this that happened.”
Authorities said the affidavit has been sealed and remains tight-lipped on the evidence that led them to arrest Letecia.
“Just hold on to questions until we know that this person, this stepmom that I even trusted, that she will pay 100 percent for this heinous thing she done,” said Landen. “And I know that’s what will be done.”
Al Stauch, Gannon’s father did not speak at the press conference, but a sheriff’s department spokesperson held back tears as her voice cracked while reading Al’s statement.
“The person who committed this heinous horrible crime is the one that I gave more to than anyone else on this planet and that is a burden that I will carry with me for a very long time,” Al said.
He writes that his heart stopped on the day that Gannon was born on September 29, 2008, coming way too early and weighing only one pound six ounces–and again on March 2, 2020, when he learned his little boy would never be coming home.
“I’d been looking forward to his teenage years, and the fun we had ahead of us as he became a young man,” Al said. “My little boy is not coming home. We will never play Nintendo again. No more Taco Tuesdays. No more smooth looking haircuts. No more “Big Bubba” for my Lana. And no more G Man for the world.”
“While we have not yet found Gannon, information has been developed that is helping us narrow our search, said Lieutenant Mitch Mihalko of the sheriff’s office.
Since Gannon vanished, crews have been scouring dozens of acres of southern Douglas County, in search of the missing boy’s body.
“As you can see from the arrest sadly, we do not believe Gannon is alive. Our work is just beginning, and you will continue to see many law enforcement officials in El Paso County over the coming weeks and possibly months as we continue our relentless pursuit of justice for Gannon and his family.”
Prior to the arrest, Letecia had been obsessively posting on various social media sites, professing her innocence and offering explanations as to what happened to Gannon, even developing a timeline she posted on Facebook.
Letecia claimed she was harassed online and should be offered an apology from everyone who suspected she could have ever hurt her stepson.
However, Gannon’s family has continuously urged the public to call in with any information to contact law enforcement so that they may be able to give Gannon a proper burial.
“I know where my son’s at without a shadow of a doubt, said Landen. “I want to leave this earth knowing justice was served for my boy.”
Prosecutors and the sheriff’s office are still asking for information from the public to help bring their promise for justice to fruition.
“One, we still want to bring Gannon home so that he can have a proper burial and his family can get the closure they need,” said Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen. “But we also want to hold the person we are charging, Letecia Stauch accountable for what she did.”
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Gannon Stauch, please call the El Paso County Sheriff at 719-520-6666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The search continues for missing Iowa teen Abdi Sharif, who
went missing on January 17, 2020. A second organized search party is set to
commence this week after a search of Des Moines’ north side last week turned up
no clues to Abdi’s whereabouts. There is currently a $5,000 reward for any
persons who come forward with information on Abdi’s disappearance.
Abdi Sharif, 18, went missing from a Target in Merle Hay where he worked. He was last seen on CCTV camera after leaving his shift. Details emerged in local media that before he went missing, Abdi posted on his Snapchat, “I got bad news…bad bad news.” Police have advised they are not ruling out foul play in Abdi’s disappearance.
In regards to the Snapchat with the cryptic message, his family and friends say they have no idea what he could have meant by that. Abdi’s mother, an immigrant from Somalia, went to the Target that night to pick him up after his shift, but she says he never appeared. She has been calling his cell phone nonstop since his disappearance, but the cell phone remains off. With Abdi’s cousin Ahmed Hashi translating for her on KCCI in Iowa, Abdi’s mother claims that whatever circumstances befell her son that night, she believes he left the store voluntarily. “He’s not in trouble. His mom loves him. She just wants to see him home.”
Abdi Sharif’s disappearance has sparked a great deal of
activism in his community, particularly his high school. According to the
principal, Kevin Biggs, it is very uncharacteristic for him to disappear
without warning, “This is a young man that was not involved, as far as we knew,
in any type of gangs, drugs, alcohol. He was never caught in trouble doing
anything. He was just a kid who went to school and did the best he can.” The
school held a coffee fundraiser for Abdi to help fund the missing persons
search. In addition, volunteers also passed out ribbons for Abdi during an
annual game that raises awareness for children with special needs. The
community is also hopeful that the posted reward of $5,000 will be an incentive
for people to come forward with information that will lead to Abdi’s safe