According to the Black and Missing Foundation, located in the District, 30 percent of missing persons in the United States in 2008 were persons of color. “ A lot of time in our community, our people just don’t know what to do so we’re providing them with that knowledge and tools about what to do from A to Z if your loved one is missing,” says co-founder Derrica Wilson, a former police officer.
Today, The RootDC begins an occasional series, titled “Vanished,” that looks at the cases of local African Americans who have gone missing but were not featured by media outlets. The aim is to give the families who grieve a voice and to offer information to the community that may help solve these cases. Our first profile is the case of Tiffany Goines, who disappeared from her mother’s house in Frederick, Md. in 1987.
If you have information about the whereabouts of any Tiffany Goines, authorities ask you to call 301-600-TIPS.
Tiffany Goines was just a few weeks away from celebrating her 13th birthday when she vanished on Dec. 5, 1987. She put on her blue jacket and asked her mother if she could go over to a friend’s house nearby. Betty Goines didn’t think anything of letting her go, never dreaming that it would be the last time she would see her young daughter.
“Tiffany went outside like she usually does, so I just said be careful. I always tell my children when they go out, just be careful,” recalls Betty Goines, 66.
Around dinnertime, when it started getting dark, and Tiffany had not arrived home, Betty suspected that something was terribly wrong. Panicked, she phoned family members, who began an excruciating search throughout the neighborhood. Each friend of Tiffany’s told Betty that she had left earlier to head home.
“We just kept on looking until in the morning, I just went down to police headquarters and told them that my daughter was missing,” Betty recounted.
Crucial time may have been lost in the initial search for the bubbly 6th grader who stood 5 feet and weighed 78 pounds and attended Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School in Frederick. Betty says she was told by a police officer on the day Tiffany disappeared, that she had to wait 24 hours before filing a report.
According to Lt. Clark Pennington, Frederick Police Department spokesman, there is still a common misconception that there is a mandatory waiting period.
“People believe you have to wait 24 hours to report a person missing. That’s not the case. As soon as a loved one or someone you care about is missing, you immediately report,” he said.
Tiffany’s uncle, William Goines, complained that his niece’s disappearance did not receive the widespread attention it deserved because the family lived in a predominantly black neighborhood.