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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Dec. 6, 2023

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Families of missing women gather to mark another year with no information on their loved ones


Karen Phillips had hoped she wouldn’t have to attend another news conference for her daughter’s birthday.

Phillips’ daughter, Kierra Coles, has been missing for five years. On Sunday, her daughter’s 31st birthday, Phillips, 52, gathered with family and others whose loved ones have disappeared to ask again for the public’s support as well as that of police and law enforcement in finding her child.

“As the years go on, it gets harder and harder,” Phillips said.

Coles, a U.S. postal worker, went missing Oct. 2, 2018, near her apartment at 81st Street and Vernon Avenue in Chatham. Her mother reported her missing after she went two days without hearing from her daughter, with whom she ordinarily talked every day.

At the time of her disappearance, Coles was three months pregnant with her first child.

The Chicago Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and FBI are searching for Coles, but her parents were skeptical about whether authorities were doing everything possible to find their daughter. Phillips is still dissatisfied with how authorities have managed the search for her daughter and said she last spoke to police about Coles’ case last year.

Asked Sunday what she would say to Coles, Phillips said: “We love you and we miss you, and we always pray for your safe return.”

LaShann Walker, 52, has spent almost a decade wondering if her daughter Diamond Bynum, 29, and her grandson, King Walker, 10, will come home. They went missing from Gary, Indiana, eight years ago.

She said she feels there needs to be “a state of emergency or something” for people who go missing.

“We’re not getting the justice or the help that they deserve,” Walker said.

She contrasted the attention to her missing relatives with recent high-profile cases in which white women have disappeared.

“Gabby Petito got all that coverage when she went missing and we’re not getting nearly as much coverage as we need (to find our family members),” Walker said, referring to a young woman who went missing on a road trip with her fiancee and was later found strangled in Wyoming. “We wonder whether they’re still alive, whether they’re still here with us, whether they’re being tortured.”

For Walker, the worst part is having birthday after birthday come and go.

“We sing happy birthday, and they’re not singing back,” she said.

Kierra Coles is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds. She is Black, with brown eyes, black hair and a medium brown complexion. She also has a tattoo of a heart on her right hand and a tattoo that says “Lucky Libra” on her back.

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