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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 to focus on the crisis of missing African-Americans.

To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile missing persons and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing.

Name: Alexis S. Patterson

Case Type: Endangered

Date of Birth: April 4, 1995

Missing Date: May 3, 2002

Age Now: 21

Missing City: Milwaukee

Missing State: Wisconsin

Gender: Female

Race: Black

Complexion: Dark

Hair Color: Black

Hair Length: Medium

Eye Color: Brown

Wear Glasses or Contacts: No

Circumstances of Disappearance: Patterson was last seen in the area of Hi-Mount Public School, located at 4921 West Garfield St. in Milwaukee. Patterson was dropped off by her stepfather, who says he last saw her standing in the crosswalk.

That was 14 years ago. Recently, Milwaukee Police and The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel received a tip from a man and his fiancée in Ohio that the man’s ex-wife might be Patterson.

The Journal-Sentinel writes:

Questions about the Ohio woman arose when the woman’s ex-husband and his fiancée became increasingly curious about her murky past. The woman, they say, has no memory of her childhood before the age of 10. She has no photographs or school mementos — indeed, no usual reminders of a normal childhood. That was enough to spur the ex-husband and fiancée to search for clues on the internet. They came upon a computer-aged photograph of Alexis Patterson, and became convinced that Alexis is the woman they know. The couple compiled a set of about a dozen photos and, in late June, sent it to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department. Within days, they also sent it to the Journal Sentinel, hoping for action.

Patterson’s mom Ayanna Patterson told the paper she has never stopped believing that her daughter is alive. “That could be my baby,” she said when shown photographs of the woman. “I’ve never said this before, but that could be my child.”

The woman seemed to have traits – listed on the flier for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – that match those of Patterson. But the woman, whose name is being withheld to preserve her privacy, has denied that she is Alexis Patterson.

“I am not that girl. That is a ridiculous question,” the woman told The Journal-Sentinel in an interview.

Sgt. Timothy Gauerke of the Milwaukee Police Department told NewsOne that it’s looking more and more like the woman in question is not Alexis Patterson. She has produced credible documents confirming her identity.

“When the Milwaukee Police Department, Cold Case Unit became aware of the possible lead in Ohio, MPD Investigators contacted the Bryan, Ohio Police Department for assistance. The Bryan Police conducted an extensive interview and collected DNA,” Gauerke said.

“The DNA is in the process of being received and then will be transmitted to the Wisconsin Crime Lab for testing. Based on the interview and documents provided, there is no reason to believe that the woman in Ohio is Alexis Patterson,” he added.

Authorities won’t have full confirmation until the DNA testing is complete.

Until then, Ayanna Patterson is holding out hope.

“My heart is telling me this is my child,” she told the Journal-Sentinel. “My baby is coming home.”

Last Seen Wearing: Alexis S. Patterson was last seen wearing a red hooded jacket with a gray stripe on the sleeves, a purple shirt, light-colored blue jeans, and white Nike tennis shoes. She wore her hair in two braids pulled back into one ponytail and was carrying a pink “Barbie” book bag.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts or circumstances of disappearance for Alexis Patterson may contact the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office at (414) 278-4788. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Patterson’s recovery. The public may also contact the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.