Amanda went missing on 21 April 2003, the day before her 17th birthday. She had just finished work at Burger King and called to say that she was getting a lift home. She never returned. The search was too much for her mother, Louwana Miller, to bear, and she died from heart failure aged 44 in April 2006. Last summer her surviving family thought they had a breakthrough in the case when a 26-year-old inmate, Robert Wolford, claimed she was buried in a vacant lot in the city. Wolford was jailed for four-and-a-half years for obstruction of justice, making a false report and raising a false alarm.
Gina DeJesus, 14, was last seen near a payphone on her way home from school in April 2004. She was with a classmate at the time; her mother had just refused to let Gina stay over at her friend’s house even though it was a Friday. In 2006 police received a tip-off that she had been buried under a garage, but no body was found. Her family refused to accept her death, and her cousin, Sylvia Colon, told the BBC: “Gina’s mother... led the crusade. She knew her daughter was alive. She felt it. Gina was very close to her parents. Every year there was a vigil – we were living in hope she would come home, and she did.”
Michelle Knight was between 18 and 20 when she vanished, but her case did not receive the same attention. Her grandmother told the cleveland.com website last night that she thought Michelle left of her own free will after her son was taken from her custody. Michelle’s mother reported seeing her with a man at a Cleveland mall.