U.S. Marks 38th National Missing Children’s Day–Can These 5 Missing Child Cases Be Solved in 2021?
On the evening of April 5, 1986, 9-year-old Anthonette Cayedito was left to look after her two younger sisters Wendy and Sadie while their mother Penny went to a local bar with friends.
According to Wendy, at approximately 3 am there was a knock at the front door of their Gallup, New Mexico home. Anthonette asked who was there and a man responded, “Uncle Joe.” She opened the door only to be snatched by two strange men and forced into a brown van as she screamed, “Let me go! Let me go!”
When Penny could not find Anthonette the next morning, she phoned the police and reported her missing. Penny told detectives the girls had been left in the care of a babysitter, but some accounts say that was a false statement as Penny feared losing custody of her children.
One year after Anthonette’s disappearance, the Gallup Police Department received a phone call. On the other end was a girl claiming to be Anthonette. Suddenly, a man’s voice shouted out, “Who said you could use the phone!” The girl screamed and the line went dead.
In 1991, a waitress working at a restaurant in Carson City, Nevada reported she may have served Anthonette who came in with a dishevelled couple. The girl kept throwing her utensils to the floor and when the waitress would pick them up, she would tightly squeeze her hand. After the girl and the couple left, the waitress found a napkin underneath the girl’s plate which said “Help me” and “Call the police.”
Anthonette has never been seen or heard from since. She was last seen wearing a pink nightgown.
Penny failed a lie detector test and detectives believe she knew more about her daughter's disappearance than she let on. She passed away in 1999.
On September 5, 1989, Anthonette’s 25-year-old aunt Louisa Estrada disappeared in a similar manner also from Gallup, New Mexico and has not been seen since. It is unclear whether the two cases are linked.
On April 29, 2003, at 7 am, 13-year-old Tabitha Tuders’ father woke her up for school and left for work. Tabitha was supposed to board a bus at 8 am. Neighbours reported seeing her walk towards the direction of the bus stop but she never made it to school.
A neighbourhood boy reported seeing Tabitha get into a red vehicle driven by an African-American man, aged between 30 to 40 years old and wearing a baseball cap. Once Tabitha entered the vehicle, the driver reversed and drove in the opposite direction of her school.
When Tabitha didn’t return home from school that day, her parents called the school and found out she had been absent. They reported her missing at 6 pm.
Tabitha’s sister’s former boyfriend matched the description of the man who had allegedly picked her up. He also drove a red vehicle and knew what time Tabitha walked to school. If the man was in fact her sister’s former boyfriend, it would make sense why she got into his vehicle since her parents had always warned her about the dangers of getting into the car of a stranger.
During the investigation, detectives found a note in Tabitha’s room in her handwriting. It said “T.D.T. -N- M.T.L.” T.D.T are Tabitha’s initials but it is unknown who M.T.L refers to.
On October 30, 2003, a trucker reported seeing a man with two teen girls who looked fearful and nervous in Linton, Indiana. The man later saw missing flyers with pictures of Tabitha and realized she resembled one of the girls he had seen and called the police. A Linton hotel clerk also reported seeing a man with two girls, one of whom resembled Tabitha. Neither of these sightings have been confirmed as of yet.
Tabitha was last seen wearing a light blue shirt, jeans and Reebok brand sneakers. She has a birthmark on her stomach and a scar on one of her fingers. Nashville detectives believe Tabitha may have been abducted and forced into human trafficking.
Nicole and Arianna Fitts
32-year-old Nicole Fitts and her 2-year-old daughter Arianna Fitts were reported missing on April 5, 2016, in San Francisco, California by family members.
Arianna was last seen in late February of 2016, in Oakland, California in the care of Helena Martin and her husband David Martin. Nicole would often leave Arianna under the care of the Martins while she commuted two hours to her job at Best Buy.
On April 1, Nicole received a phone call at approximately 9 pm. The caller lured her outside by asking her to “go meet the babysitter.” On April 8, 2016, a gardener found her deceased body lying in the fetal position in a shallow grave covered with a piece of wood in John McClaren Park.
The Martins have been uncooperative with the investigation. Nicole’s sisters believe that whoever took their niece “wanted Arianna as their own” and killed Nicole. It is believed that Arianna is still alive.
The San Francisco Police Department has offered a reward of $100,000 for tips leading to the arrest of Nicole’s killer(s) and information regarding Arianna’s whereabouts.
Wesley Dale Morgan
2-year-old Wesley Dale Morgan lived with his mother Ruby Renee Havard and her then-boyfriend Burnell Hilton Jr. in Clinton, Louisiana. Wesley’s biological father Dewey Morgan also lived in Clinton.
On May 15, 2001, at 9:45 am, Wesley was playing with puppies on the front porch unattended. According to Ruby, she was in the kitchen preparing lunch at the time. Wesley disappeared from the front porch and has not been seen or heard from since.
Detectives believe Ruby and Burnell know more about Wesley’s disappearance than they have let on. They have been interviewed several times and have always denied any involvement despite failing polygraph tests.
In the spring of 2001, Burnell was charged with attempted murder in an unrelated case after his former girlfriend informed authorities that he was responsible for a shooting that occurred in October of 1998 in Zachary, Louisiana.
Detectives believe Ruby sold Wesley to fund her ‘lifestyle’ and that he is still alive. In 2008, a pregnant Ruby was arrested after she attempted to sell her unborn child to a couple for $2,000. The charge was later dropped.
Wesley's case is still open and the investigation is ongoing.
Rondreiz Cortez Phillips
On April 5, 2018, 4-year-old Rondreiz Cortez Phillips was with his mother Sheila Phillips and her then-boyfriend Nicholas Demarcus Gilbert at his grandmother’s home in Lisbon, Louisiana.
He was playing in the front yard at 11:30 pm while Sheila was inside the house and Nicholas was working on his truck. When Sheila and Nicholas realized Rondreiz was gone they called 911 and reported him missing.
Some have accused Nicholas of being involved in Rondreiz’s disappearance but he maintains his innocence and claims he has passed a polygraph test. Authorities have not confirmed whether this is accurate.
Rondreiz was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans and yellow and black rubber boots. His nickname is ‘Junior.’
May 25, 2021, is the 38th National Missing Children’s Day in the United States. According to the FBI, an estimated 460,000 children are reported missing each year. The number is most likely significantly higher considered many are not reported missing at all.
91% of children who are reported missing are endangered runaways (1 in 6 will become victims of human trafficking), 5% are abducted by their own families and less than 1% are nonfamily abductions.
It is vital we remember the faces of these innocent children who were stolen from their homes, not just today, but every day. If you have any information, no matter how small, you can always leave an anonymous tip here.
Sources: The Charley Project, Unsolved Mysteries Wiki, WSMV, Wikipedia, MissingKids