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.
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Case Type: Endangered
Date of Birth: Jan. 1, 1985
Missing Date: Jan. 14, 2016
Age Now: 31
Missing City: New York
Missing State: New York
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Medium
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: Shields was last seen at LaGuardia Airport around noon, where she had just finished speaking to her supervisor.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Originally, police told Shields’ parents Chris and Donna that video last captured their daughter exiting the terminal. After further examination, Chris Shields says authorities informed him the woman in the video was not their daughter.
“They said they vetted the video and it was not her and there’s no new video so far,” said Chris Shields.
But the Shields family say they refuse to give up in the search for Sierra.
“My question is, how do you go missing from an airport with so many cameras,” said Donna Shields. “We know someone has seen something. We just have to get to that person.”
Even though they live in the suburbs of Chicago, Chris and Donna just finished their third trip to New York to search for Sierra following an initial stay of five weeks when she went missing. The family focused their attention on Astoria where Sierra – who worked as a flight attendant for Shuttle America, which handles Delta flights – lived and on Ditmars Boulevard, where she spent time.
The family says the kindness of New Yorkers, including Sierra’s friends and acquaintances, has been amazing. So many store owners in Astoria agreed to post Sierra’s flyer in their windows. One store owner said he had already changed his Facebook profile to direct people to Facebook pages set up to help find Sierra.
“I went into a pharmacy and was looking to purchase tape and he just handed it to us. He didn’t know us and he didn’t know Sierra. He just said: ‘No money.’ There are so many people who have shown such compassion,” said Donna Shields.
And that’s one of the things that has kept the family strong. Chris Shields’ employer has even offered to pay for his flights back and forth to New York City to search for his daughter. When the Shields arrive, there are groups of people who knew Sierra or have heard about her story ready to help.
“We experience the love of God through other people, those who knew Sierra or who were in relationship with her and some people who had never met her,” said Chris Shields.
The search this past weekend ended with a prayer in Astoria Park at sunset.
“Sunset is Sierra’s favorite time. She has many pictures of sunset in that park,” said Chris Shields. “At this point we are very hopeful we will be able to see her again and celebrate with everyone who knows her and cares about her.”
Donna Shields said her message to her daughter is a simple one: “We love you and we are supporting you in whatever your hopes and dreams are.”
Last Seen Wearing: A navy-blue dress.
Identifying Marks or Characteristics: Unknown.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts or circumstances of disappearance for Sierra Shields may contact the New York City Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line. Sierra’s family has also set up the Find Sierra Shields Facebook page, which has garnered over 11,500 likes so far. The Teamsters Union is also offering a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to the discovery of Sierra Shields.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Facebook