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.
Case Type: Endangered
DOB: May 25, 1996
Missing Date: Dec. 13, 2014
Age Now: 18
Missing City: Milwaukee
Missing State: Wisconsin
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Medium
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: Myles left her home on December 13th to make a short walk to the Walgreens store near 85th and Brown Deer Road.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Unknown. Myles is mentally challenged, according to her family. She also has a one-year-old son.
“She has a one-year-old son, so this is not like her to just leave for weeks. It’s been 21 days now and she still hasn’t returned and again, never contacted no one in the family,” Myles’ sister Samantha Coats told Fox 6.
The family has conducted searches, but still haven’t had any luck finding clues.
Lt. Mark Stanmeyer, a spokesman for Milwaukee Police, told NewsOne that a missing persons case was opened on Myles on Dec. 13.
However, Myles’ family is concerned that she is not being considered a “critical” missing persons case. The standards for being a critical missing persons case includes those under age 11 or those with “physical, mental or cognitive disability, drug dependency” that make them a danger to themselves or others, among other criteria.
Stanmeyer told NewsOne the case is nevertheless getting the same level of attention.
“While her case does not have the factors to formally categorize it internally as a “critical” missing, members from our Sensitive Crimes Division are continuously working on the case as they would if it were categorized that way,” said Stanmeyer.
Coats told TMJ 4 that her sister has a mental delay that challenges her decision-making skills. Stanmeyer said the family did not indicate that Myles had any conditions when they first filed the report.
“They have since conveyed that she is mentally challenged, however that hasn’t been independently verified,” said Stanmeyer.
Derrica Wilson, co-founder and president of the Black and Missing Foundation, told NewsOne in an interview that it’s not uncommon for African-American families to leave out details about their loved ones that could be deemed embarrassing due to unfair stigmas.
“It’s not uncommon for us to see that some minority families are ashamed and leave out critical information as it relates to their missing loved ones’ disability and mental capacity,” said Wilson.
“It’s so important to be as detailed as possible when filing the initial report which can determine the way the case will be classified. In addition, it can aid with additional media coverage and law enforcement resources being assigned to the case,” Wilson added.
Myles’ family believes she may have been picked up by a man she met online. Coats’ brother says one of the last phone calls his sister received may have been from someone the family believes is tied to the case.
“I just believe there’s someone out here that knows something on her whereabouts and I wish they’d speak up and tell the public what’s going on,” said Coats.
Last Seen Wearing: Myles was last seen wearing a pink and gray winter hat with a cat design, a black pea coat, and light blue jeans.
Identifying Marks or Characteristics: She has a scar on the left side of her forehead.
Anyone with information regarding the circumstances of disappearance or whereabouts of Stephanie Myles may contact the Milwaukee Police’s Sensitive Crimes Division at (414) 935-7405 or send information to the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.