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The mother of Chicago postal worker Kierra Coles, who mysteriously vanished more than four years ago, is hoping the FBI will take the lead in the search for her daughter.
Coles was about three months pregnant with her first child when she disappeared on Oct. 2, 2018, according to her mother, Karen Phillips.
“One minute I want to scream and holler, I want to cry all day,” she told ABC News. “But I know I have to keep going, because I still have to live my life and pay my bills. But it’s just so stressful. Sometimes I don’t even want to get up — I just want to sleep all day.”
Phillips said Wednesday, “I’m hoping the FBI can get us a conviction, or maybe find something that the [Chicago] police hasn’t found. … Working with just the [Chicago] police, it’s getting nowhere.”
ABC News reports Chicago police classifies the 26-year-old’s disappearance as an open and cold case.
Chicago police released surveillance video in 2022 that captured some of Coles’ last known movements on Oct. 2, 2018.
According to ABC News, the surveillance video showed a man — who is considered a person of interest — arriving at Coles’ home, and later Coles and the man were seen driving away in Coles’ car.
At about 10:43 p.m. that night, Coles was spotted on surveillance video making ATM withdrawals — the last known images of her, according to police.
Later that night, Coles’ car was parked in another part of the city, police said. The person of interest was seen getting out of the passenger side, but nobody got out of the driver’s side.
The next day, the person of interest was seen parking Coles’ car near her home and going inside, police said. ABC News reports he then left Coles’ home and drove away in his car.
When the person of interest was interviewed, police said he gave varying accounts of the last time he saw Coles.
As the search continues, Phillips vowed, “I’m never gonna stop looking for my daughter.”
Kierra Coles is missing along with many other underreported Black women and girls
According to Psychology Today, the racial disparities in human trafficking mirrors colonial exploitation and historical slavery.
Cheryl Butler traces the “racial roots of human trafficking” by highlighting the African slave trade, the burgeoning myths of hypersexualized Black women, and stereotypes that slaves were biologically different and so could endure hard labor.
Missing Black females are so often underreported in the local and national media that Lifetime premiered a new film over the weekend entitled “Black Girl Missing.”
Screenwriter Kale Futterman wrote “Black Girl Missing” in the wake of 22-year-old Gabby Petito’s disappearance, only given the prompt that it would be a tale of two missing girls: one white and one Black.
Prior to the Lifetime release, a four-part documentary series on HBO followed the lives of Natalie and Derrica Wilson, co-founders of the Black and Missing Foundation.
The series, “Black and Missing”, sheds light on what is rarely seen and heard. Yet beyond awareness, family members and mother’s like Karen simply want answers. She said she remains hopeful an FBI investigation will bring her “some type of closure.”
“Sometimes I find myself talking to her,” she said. “‘Kierra, where are you? Give us a sign.'”
Communities are working together in lieu of a federal solution
Minnesota’s House of Representatives passed a bill last month that would create an Office of Missing and Murdered African American Women to address disparities in missing persons cases. If the bill makes it through the Senate and is signed by the governor, it would create the first office of its kind focused on Black women in the nation.
According to KCUR, after the Kansas City Police Department denied community claims of women missing along Prospect Avenue, Black community members created their own missing-persons databases and other resources to find missing individuals.
Nationally, Black girls and women were reported missing at a disproportionate rate each year. In 2020, 268,884 girls and women were reported missing in the United States, according to the National Crime Information Center; a third of those reported missing were Black.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocate. Support is provided in more than 200 languages.