Foul Play Suspected in Case of Missing Florida Child

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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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TaNiyah Monique LeonardTa’Niyah Monique Leonard

Case Type: Endangered
DOB: November 16, 2001
Missing Date: October 19, 2002
Age Now: 10
Missing City: Bartow
Missing State: Florida
Gender: Female
Race: Black
Complexion: Medium
Height: 2’6″
Weight: 20 lbs.
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Medium
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No

Location Last Seen: In her home. Photo is age-progressed to 4 years.

Circumstances of Disappearance: Ta’Niyah was dropped off at her father’s apartment by her mother, Miranda Jones, who claimed that was the last time she saw the child. Michael Lewis, Ta’Niyah’s father, claimed that Jones picked her up the next morning and he has not seen the baby since. Foul play is possible in her disappearance.

Ta’Niyah’s maternal grandmother, Theresa Manning, says the disappearance of her first grandchild has caused deep pain in her family.

“It’s been really rough every year. You look at her birth date and missing date and wonder what’s going on,” Manning told NewsOne in an interview.

Ta’Niyah’s mother has since had other children, and they also wonder what happened to their sister.

“I look at my grandkids, and it’s really confusing to them. They say, ‘We have a sister, but where is she,'” said Manning.

It’s a question that Manning is hoping gets answered one day. She prays that Ta’Niyah is still alive and takes solace that detectives haven’t discovered enough information to classify the case as a homicide.

“I’m holding out hope that she is still alive,” says Manning. “Until I see evidence otherwise, I’m going to keep hoping and praying that she is out there,” she said.

Manning said she wants anyone with any information about her granddaughter, even if they think it is insignificant, to come forward.

“It’s probably someone who looks at me every day that knows where my grandchild is and what happened. Maybe now after all these years somebody might be willing to open up. I don’t want to press charges, I just want to know that she is alive and well and where she is,” said Manning.

“All I really care about is finding her.”

Last Seen Wearing: Unknown.

Identifying Marks or Characteristics: She has pierced ears and light birthmark on her right leg.

If anyone has information about Ta’Niyah’s whereabouts, please contact the Black and Missing Foundation’s tip line.

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