As the centerpiece of an effort to draw attention to and help find missing Black Americans, whose stories are largely ignored in national media coverage of missing persons…… TV One will premiere Find Our Missing, a 10-episode, one-hour docu-drama series Wednesday, January 18 at 10 PM ET.
Hosted by Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress and Harlem resident S. Epatha Merkerson, who for 16 years portrayed Police Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on NBC’s Law & Order, Find Our Missing is designed to put names and faces to people of color who have disappeared without a trace. Each episode will tell the story of the missing person or persons, beginning with the day they vanished and the frantic searches by loved ones and investigators to find them. Find Our Missing provides insight into these victims’ lives –their hopes and dreams, what makes them tick, and how they have touched those around them – from the people who know them best. The episodes will chronicle the investigations into their disappearances, and why the search for them so far has only turned up dead ends. Each episode delves into the mystery surrounding one or two disappearances, and will call viewers to action, providing them with contact information for the specific police and local FBI offices handling the cases if they have any information about the missing.
“Nearly one-third of the missing in this country are black Americans, while we make up only 12 percent of the population. Yet stories about missing people of color are rarely told in the national media,” said TV One President and CEO Wonya Lucas. “Find Our Missing will be dramatic television, but we also hope that TV One’s combined efforts on air, through digital and social media, and through partnerships will also draw attention to a critical issue and bring new information to light for the loved ones of the missing featured in this series, and for others. We hope these profiles will trigger the memory of someone who might have seen something, and feel compelled to come forward and help these families who have suffered for so long.”
“Though these victims may be gone, through this show we want to say they are no longer forgotten,” said S. Epatha Merkerson. “I am honored to host Find Our Missing and hope that my participation not only can help shine the spotlight on the plight of missing people of color, but that we can help uncover some answers and ultimately find justice for the sake of those missing and their families and friends.”
The premiere episode features stories of two people who vanished in 2009:
- Pamela Butler, a 47-year-old Program Analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, mysteriously disappeared from inside her Washington, D.C. home despite an elaborate security system. Her boyfriend was the last person to see her.
- Hasanni Campbell, a sweet five-year-old boy suffering from cerebral palsy vanished from the busy Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, California. His foster father, who was dropping off Hassani at his foster mother’s job, says he left him alone for just moments when he took Hassani’s younger sister to the front of the store. Investigators don’t believe Hassani ever made it to Rockridge that day.
TV One will complement its on-air series with social media and online content on www.tvone.tv that will share important information on what to do if someone is missing, tips on how to prevent abductions, and offer additional stories of lost people, and some who have been found, plus join in partnerships with organizations that provide real-time alerts and information on missing persons and allow users to submit tips electronically. Tvone.tv will also launch a new Justice and Mystery section that includes news articles about the latest missing persons cases, the wrongfully imprisoned, police brutality and fascinating unsolved mysteries, as well as retrospectives on major justice cases throughout history, and a feature where users can ask experts questions related to the justice system.
Additional episodes of Find Our Missing will feature:
Yasmin Acree, a popular 15-year-old honor student on Chicago’s west side, who disappeared from her home in the middle of the night in 2008; Althedia Vaught, a 41-year-old- grandmother-to-be in Tulsa, who was seen leaving her house late one night in January 2009 wearing her pajamas, never to be seen again; Monica Bowie, a 34-year-old Atlanta woman, who is believed to have been kidnapped in 2007 from the parking deck of her Atlanta apartment complex; Jaliek Rainwalker, a 12-year-old Greenwich, NY boy, who had been on his way to being adopted after having been in the foster care system since birth, went missing in November 2008 after a car ride with his to-be adoptive father; Christina Voltaire, a 22-year-old college student from Winter Haven, FL, who lent a friend her car in January 2011 and was missing when the friend returned an hour later; 26-year-old Lester Jones, a Mississippi State college student, who disappeared in January 2010 while on the drive to meet some college fraternity brothers for a weekend getaway.
Also, Tionda and Diamond Bradley, 10- and 3-year-old sisters from Chicago, who disappeared in July 2001 while their single mother was away for a few hours at work; 42-year-old nursing student and aspiring minister Evelyn Shelton, who went missing in Spartanburg, SC in May 2011 after a study date; 7-year-old Alexis Patterson from Milwaukee, who disappeared in May 2002 – she was last seen in the park near her school but never made it to class that day; 3-year-old Lemoine Allen & 2-year-old Kreneice Jackson, who are unrelated, but both toddlers disappeared from the front of Jimmy Jacskson grocery store May 10, 1992 in Edgard, MS – the kids were with family that afternoon celebrating a Mother’s Day service at a nearby church; 48-year-old Hattie Brown, a Persian Gulf War veteran and the first female sergeant in her platoon, who disappeared in 2009 from her home in Halifax County, VA, after having been seen filling up at a gas station with her nephew – her car was found two months later destroyed by fire; 18-year-old Pine Bluff, AR student Cleashindra Hall, who did part-time clerical work for a local doctor in 1994- she didn’t call her mother for her usual ride home from work, and the doctor says she was picked up by someone else; 20-year-old Kelly Allen of St. Louis, who went missing while she was spending a few days at a female friend’s apartment and looking for a job; 24-year-old Unique Harris of Washington, DC, who put her sons and niece to bed in October 2010, then disappeared and is believed to have been abducted from her home; 27-year-old Morgan Johnson of Indianapolis, who disappeared in May 2011 from the hotel where he lived, shortly after the death of his grandfather, with whom he had a close relationship – he did not attend the funeral, or has not shown up since for the job he loved, and he vanished without the medication he takes to prevents seizures; and 2-year-old Teekah Lewis of Tacoma, WA, who disappeared in 1999 while playing an arcade game during a family outing at a bowling alley, with her family just feet away.
S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for her long-running role on Law & Order, has won critical acclaim for her work in theatre, television and film. She received Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, NAACP Image and Gracie Allen Awards and an IFP Spirit nomination for her leading role in the HBO film, Lackawanna Blues. She is also a two-time Tony Award nominee, most recently for her lead role in the 2008 Broadway revival, Come Back Little Sheba. She is currently in production on Steven Spielberg’s film, Lincoln and recently wrapped production on Tyler Perry’s We The Peeples.