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.
Alicia Chanta Moore, 16, went missing Nov. 2, after being dropped off a block from her home by her school bus. Police released the last known image of Moore (below right), which showed her exiting the school bus and looking calm and normal.
Family members say they knew something was wrong immediately because the quiet girl had never run away and items in her room were undisturbed.
“I feel like personally [the police] really dropped the ball,” Cedric Fisher, a family friend, told the Dallas Morning News.
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The Dallas Morning News writes:
They questioned why investigators didn’t go public with her disappearance sooner and wondered why there was never an Amber Alert issued to spread the search beyond the city limits.
Police said they understand the family’s concerns. But with a 16-year-old, it’s hard to determine whether the missing person is in trouble, has run away or has simply failed to tell her family where she is. Even now, they said, they don’t know for sure how Moore disappeared, or whether she was abducted.
“We have got a lot of work ahead of us in this investigation,” Chief Dan Busken said. “We are only as good as our most recent information.”
Family members also questioned why no Amber Alert was issued.
As the hours dragged on, Moore’s family said they pressed police to issue an Amber Alert, the system of advertising missing person cases. But Busken said his department was limited in what it can do.
Hunt County is just outside the Dallas-area Amber Alert regional program. In order to activate a statewide alert network for a missing teenager, law enforcement must determine that the victim’s disappearance was against her will, police said. Busken said the department was unable to make that determination.
“We have to verify things,” he said. “We have to act on the information that we receive.”
Authorities didn’t distribute a news release with her picture until Monday afternoon. A day later, her body was discovered by a construction worker in neighboring Van Zandt County.
Moore’s body was found Nov. 6 in a trunk along a highway about 35 miles from her Greenville home. The body had suffered trauma, but police have not issued a cause of death. Police have arrested one man they questioned in the case. In addition, a 49-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting Moore months ago is also being held in jail.
Months before Moore was killed, her mother told police that 49-year-old Terry Dwayne Ramsire abused her daughter, according to police. Ramsire was charged with sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact, according to a city spokesperson. He’s being held in the Hunt County Jail on $70,000 bond, and while Ramsire was locked up at the time of Moore’s disappearance and homicide, police say they are working to determine if a connection exists.
Greenville cops announced on Nov. 8 that they also arrested Tobias Whetstone, a man they previously questioned about Moore’s disappearance, according to NBC 5. However, police said he was arrested on an outstanding family violence arrest and didn’t immediately say if he’s linked to Moore’s killing.
It was quite disturbing to us to see that Alicia’s case didn’t warrant an Amber Alert or receive attention from national news, although it was very similar to Jessica Ridgeway‘s case, the Colorado girl who disappeared early October 2012 and an Amber Alert was issued,” said Wilson.
“We need law enforcement, media, and our community to get involved in these cases immediately. Our children are not all runaways and that could be the reason why so many of our children are disappearing; the predators recognize that our missing children are classified as “runaways”; therefore, they think no one is looking for them. They are certainly not making the news,” Wilson added.
Moore’s funeral is planned for Saturday. The community held a rally Saturday in the girl’s honor. Several hundred people marched while wearing purple, the teen’s favorite color.
Wilson said African-American families must be willing to take their concerns to the next level if they feel they aren’t being properly addressed.
“When families feel that law enforcement is not doing enough, they must continue the fight. Their concerns should be addressed at the highest levels– police chiefs, commissioners, mayors, and elected officials. Groups such as the Black and Missing Foundation Inc. are committed to helping families bridge the gap with law enforcement, and media and we are always willing to step in and get involved,” Wilson added.