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.
There’s sad new in the search for missing New York City flight attendant Sierra Shields. New York City Police say that Shields’ remains were found Wednesday on the shore of Rikers Island West, which houses the city’s largest jail.
The discovery comes nearly eight months after Shields, last seen at LaGuardia Airport, was reported missing.
According to the New York City Police Department, “human remains were discovered on the shoreline of location” at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday.
“Detectives from the 114 Precinct and the Medical Examiner’s responded to the location. Based on an examination, it was determined that the deceased was Sierra Shields,” NYPD officials told NewsOne.
Before disappearing, Shields, who lived in Astoria, Queens, with roommates, had been acting unlike herself, according to family members. Shields left all her flight attendant gear at her job and may have just quit, according to her parents.
“Her supervisor asked was she OK. She wasn’t quite herself. It seemed like something was bothering her,” said Shields’ father Chris Shields.
She left her job and was not seen again. Police originally thought surveillance video had captured her leaving the airport terminal, but Chris Shields, said police further examined the video and determined that it was not his daughter.
Her parents fail to understand how their daughter could disappear from LaGuardia, which probably has more cameras than anywhere else in the city.
“My question is, how do you go missing from an airport with so many cameras,” said Shields’ mother Donna Shields. “We know someone has seen something. We just have to get to that person.”
But that didn’t stop the Shields family and her many friends from diligently searching for Shields who was studying ministry. Chris and Donna Shields made multiple trips to New York City from their home outside Chicago to plaster the city with missing persons fliers. They set up a Facebook page to coordinate efforts and bring attention to the case.
“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,” Chris Shields said during one of his trips to the city.
Condolences began to flood the Sierra Shields Facebook page Friday night as news spread about the discovery.
“Donna and Chris, as a parent my heart truly goes out to you. To your children as a sister my heart goes out to you. Everyday I hoped. Everyday I prayed for a safe return. Now my prayers are for the peace of God to be with you in your time of sorrow. This is an outcome none of us wanted, but God answered our prayers of you getting answers,” wrote one visitor to the page.
The medical examiner will determine Shields’ cause of death.
Anyone with information about Sierra Shields’ disappearance 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.
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