On a bright sunny day last fall, a tall, slender, dark-skinned black
woman left her Georgia home and then simply vanished into thin air.
Thirty-five-year-old Shandell McLeod was last seen outside her house
located in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Lithonia on the 24th of
September, says Detective H. Guest, of Dekalb County Police Department,
who is working on the case. Her distraught family says they now fear for
"She is a single, professional, career-orientated woman, with no
criminal record and her disappearance is completely uncharacteristic,"
says Detective Guest.
What makes this story even more tragic is that her inexplicable
disappearance has received absolutely no coverage from local or national
The only platform that has drawn attention to McLeod's mysterious departure is the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. (BAM FI) website
and their social networking sites. "What is so frustrating is what we
have to go through to get attention for our missing persons," says
Natalie Wilson, co-founder & director of public relations at the
Black and Missing Foundation.
In fact, according to FBI statistics African-Africans and other minorities make up roughly 40 percent of all missing persons.
"How often do you see these stories getting media attention," says
Derrica N. Wilson, a veteran law enforcement official and co-founder,
president and CEO of the Black and Missing Foundation. "The public are misled to believe all victims are blond and blue eyed."
It is this nagging feeling among many black Americans, borne out by
facts, that their missing-person cases don't get as much attention as
missing-person cases involving whites that has led to accusations of
So much so that producers at TV One felt the need to devote an entire
series to unsolved cases of missing African-Americans, with a hope to
unearth clues and encourage viewers to come forward with information.
The 10-part documentary-series, "Find Our Missing," premieres on the
cable network tonight.
"Though African-Americans are disproportionately affected there
clearly is a void in the coverage of some of these cases," Craig Henry,
co-executive in charge of production at TV One told theGrio. "We are
just pleased we can use our resources to fill in this gap."
Blacks account for 12 percent of the population yet are involved in
about a third of the country's missing-persons cases, says Toni Judkins,
programming chief at TV One.
"Unfortunately there's a history of distrust between the black
community and the police," says Wilson of the Black and Missing
Foundation, which aims to put the spotlight on missing persons of color
and educate the minority community about better personal safety. "So we
have created a forum where people can come to our website and report
Psychologists say when a person is missing or a body cannot be found
it is often more traumatic than facing death, even homicide, for loved
ones left behind, because there is no outlet for emotional closure.
"I just want to give her family closure," says Det. Guest, who adds
that so far they have one main suspect in the McLeod case, "an
African-American man called Ricky Noble who was last seen in possession
of her car before fleeing from police."
Anyone with information about Shandell McLeod's disappearance contact Detective H. Guest on 770-724-7866 or visit www.BAMFI.org and click on "Tip Line."