Toddler Missing For A Year, Child Protective Services Under Scrutiny

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Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.

NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation and TV One to focus on the crisis of missing African Americans.

To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile a missing person weekly and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing, while TV One‘s newest show, “Find Our Missing,” hosted by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, tells these stories in visual form.

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Dwight Stallings

 

Case Type: Endangered
Date of Birth: May 19, 2010
Missing Date:
April 1, 2011
Age Now:
22 months
Missing City:
Elk Grove
Missing State:
Calif.
Case Number:
NCMC1191632 Gender: Male
Race:
Black
Complexion: Light

Height: 2’6″

Weight: 26

Hair Color: Black
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Hair Length: Short
Eye Color: Brown

Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen:
Unknown.

Circumstances of Disappearance: Authorities say the child has not been seen by family members since April 2011, and his mother, Tanisha Edwards (pictured below), 35, has been unable or unwilling to reveal what happened to him.

Authorities were not aware of his disappearance until Edwards was arrested last week for an alleged parole violation and being under the influence. Child Protective Services issued a warrant for Edwards to produce the child. Police say she was unable to provide information about Dwight’s whereabouts.

“It’s like a needle in a haystack, where do you start with your investigation?,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Ramos.

Ramos described Edwards as a drug user who led a transient lifestyle and may have given the baby to someone else to raise. Police also suspect she may be hiding the baby’s location to try and reunite with the child if she is released.

Police have criticized Child Protective Services (CPS) for not notifying them of Dwight’s disappearance sooner. According to reports, police accompanied CPS to find Edwards and her baby on four occasions over the course of six days in April 2011. Police tried to find the child again in August 2011. Sheriff’s deputies say that CPS failed to file a missing persons report, which would have prompted them to launch an investigation back then.

Ed Howard, a senior counsel with the Children’s Advocacy Institute in San Diego, told the Sacramento Bee that the case was especially disturbing because authorities should have been notified when they were unable to find the child.

“That’s unbelievably troubling but consistent with what we hear about Sacramento County CPS,” he told the Bee, “that they seem unable or unwilling to get their act together [in] keeping track of abused or neglected kids.”

Edwards was also released from custody last June, even though the safety or whereabouts of baby Dwight had not been confirmed.

“Why would the court let her go without anyone seeing that child?” one source told the Bee.

Now homicide investigators have taken up the search for Dwight. They are coordinating with volunteers to distribute fliers. Law enforcement officials said the move doesn’t mean it is a death investigation, but homicide detectives were “better equipped to handle the investigation from this point forward,” according to a release from the sheriff’s department.

But after being missing for a year and the multiple, inconsistent stories that Edwards has given police, this is cause for concern. Edwards has told police that baby Dwight got sick and died at an unknown hospital or was with unidentified relatives or a Black Muslim women.

“We can’t ignore the possibility that the baby is no longer alive,” Ramos told the Sacramento Bee. “The disconcerting thing is that no family members or friends of [the Mother] can say they’ve seen the baby since April 2011.”

A $3,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the whereabouts of Dwight Stallings.

Last Seen Wearing: Unknown.

Identifying Marks or Characteristics: Unknown.

Anyone with information about Dwight’s whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at (916) 874-5115 or the Black and Missing Foundation’s Tip Line.

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