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 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.
Aysia Monique Lewis
Case Type: Endangered
DOB: Jan. 1, 1999
Missing Date: Jan. 26, 2015
Age Now: 16
Missing City: Christiansburg
Missing State: Virginia
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Shoulder Length
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: After school around 2:45 p.m.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Police have recovered Lewis safe in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to WDBJ7 in Virginia. She was in a vehicle with a 33-year-old man named Donald “Bruce” Quesenberry, Jr. (pictured below right). Both were taken in to police custody.
According to Virginia State Police, Quesenberry traveled from his home in Normal, Illinois, to meet Lewis who police believe went off with him willingly.
Police put out an alert for Lewis because they believed she was in acute danger of being sexually exploited. A nationwide search for the pair was underway.
According to police, Lewis and Quesenberry had online communications before she ran off with him. It is unclear if Quesenberry first made contact with Lewis online. Police say the man has ties to the Southwest Virginia. The Roanake Times reported that Quesenberry has faced criminal charges in the past but was acquitted. The paper reports:
According to Tennessee court records obtained by The Roanoke Times, Quesenberry, 33, was previously charged with two counts of sexual battery and one count of raping a child in March of 2004. Quesenberry was later acquitted of the charges. His record was expunged, according to a Tipton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. No additional details about the case were available on Thursday.
Lewis’ mother, Teneara Dial, made a plea for her daughter’s safe return during a tearful press conference this week.
“To everyone out there listening, we need your help. We want our daughter who is 16 years old back home with us where she belongs,” said Dial. “Aysia is a good girl. She’s an honor roll student. She doesn’t use drugs or alcohol. She attends church regularly, but she’s got mixed up with the wrong person.“
Police discovered the pair after Quesenberry may have communicated with family and friends via Facebook.
“She’s safe,” read a post believed to be from Quesenberry. “I would never hurt her in any shape form or fashion, I’ve asked her to go home several times and she won’t.”
Quesenberry’s now ex-fiancee, who asked not to be named, told News 25 in Illinois the last time she saw Quesenberry was Sunday when he told her he was going to the store.
When he didn’t return home by 4 a.m., the woman called Quesenberry again who told her that he was on his way back. When he hadn’t returned by 9 a.m., the ex-fiancee called again and he told her that he had drove to Virginia after getting a call that his grandmother was ill.
Quesenberry’s ex-fiancee contacted his family Monday afternoon, when she claims that she was told by his 14-year-old daughter that he was cheating on her with Lewis.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, said it is important for parents to monitor as best they can who their children are communicating with online.
“The Internet is an integral part of our lives. Sadly, there is a dark side to it as well. Predators are utilizing it to lure our children,” Wilson told NewsOne in an interview.
“Parents must not only understand the dangers lurking in cyber space, but must also have a frank conversation with their children about those dangers. They must also monitor the sites their children visit,” Wilson added.
Lewis is in the custody of child welfare authorities in Arkansas and her relieved parents are on their way to pick her up.
Quesenberry is facing a stolen car charge and delinquency of a minor charge, according to authorities. He may also face other charges after further investigation.