African Americans often say that black people who go missing are rarely covered by local or national media outlets. Local police departments often acknowledge this.
Those concerns have given rise to a more vocal, organized movement to push media outlets and local police departments to make cases of missing African Americans a priority.
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,” said group co-founder Derrica Wilson, a former police officer.
D.C. police say there are 30 unsolved cases involving missing people of color in the city.
Today, The RootDC continues its occasional series “Vanished,” which 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 profile is of Allean Logan, who went missing from her Southwest Washington neighborhood nearly 14 years ago.
On the morning of Sept. 15, 1999, Sabrina Logan got a frantic call from her daughter, Stephanie Logan. Sabrina’s sister, Allean Logan, wasn’t answering her phone. Could Sabrina go over to Allean’s home in Southwest Washington and see if she was okay, Stephanie asked.
When Sabrina got there, she heard Allean’s infant son, Jerome, crying through the locked door. Worried, Sabrina rushed to get an apartment manager. When the door swung open, she found Jerome sitting in his chair. Allean, 36, was nowhere to be found.
“You could tell his diaper was soaking wet, like he had it on a couple of hours,” Stephanie Logan recalled her mother telling her.
No one has seen or heard from Allean since. Nearly 14 years later, there are still more questions than answers. Allean’s family says she never would have left Jerome alone. They say she would have taken personal items such as Jerome’s stroller, her cigarettes, her keys and her shoes if she planned to leave and never return.
“Sometimes, it gets kind of depressing,” Stephanie, 41, said. “We just miss having Allean around. She had a real uplifting spirit.”
Police say they have been looking for Logan for more than 13 years. But the search went cold many years ago because neighbors have been reluctant to give information. Still, investigators press on and have collected DNA from the family. They recently released an updated missing-person flier, hoping it will lead to information that will solve the case.
When Logan disappeared, she was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed about 118 pounds. She has a medium brown complexion, brown eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing a T-shirt and black pants.
Relatives say that Logan’s disappearance has been hardest on Jerome, and it is his pain that crystallizes the pain of the entire family. She left behind another son, Vincent, who is now 19, as well as her mother, 81, and eight siblings.
Jerome frequently asks why his mother left him behind and is in therapy to help him cope with her mysterious absence. He suffers from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and has abandonment issues that intensified after his father relinquished parental rights. Sabrina is raising Jerome, and that is who he now calls “mom.” But it does not replace the aching longing he has to find out what happened to his biological mother.
“I’ve had to explain to Jerome that his mother didn’t leave him because she didn’t love him,” said Sabrina. “Even when Allean would stay out until 2 or 3 in the morning, she still had him with her.”
At the time of her disappearance, Allean was unemployed and having personal problems that many of her loved ones say may have contributed to her disappearance. Relatives say she fell in with the wrong crowd and began using drugs. She was scheduled to enter an 18-month drug rehab program before she vanished. Another sister, Alvia Underwood, had even gone to local drug dealers to ask them to stop giving Logan drugs on credit because she could not pay them back. To her surprise, they obliged.
Police officials said they are examining whether Logan was a victim of foul play and whether a connection with criminal activity may have led to her disappearance.
Meanwhile, there is another puzzle to Logan’s disappearance, according to police. D.C. police Lt. Bobby Ladson said that detectives went to her apartment complex hours before she was reported missing to investigate a homicide. Her next-door neighbor, a suspected drug dealer, was found dead inside his apartment with a pillow covering his face and a bullet through his head. Initially, investigators did not think the two cases were related, but now they believe otherwise. Logan, who relatives say knew the neighbor, may have seen something that put her in danger. Police are still looking for the neighbor’s killer.
“The investigator classified the case as a missing person, critical, felony foul play. The thinking is she may have been a witness to the homicide and may have been a victim herself,” said Ladson, who has been assigned to the case. “But there’s no proof.”
Rumors persist. Neighbors speak in hushed tones about the day Logan went missing. Several, who would not give their names, say she was seen trembling and being led against her will out of the apartment building by two young black men. But they do not dare come forward with the information.
Family members have another theory. They believe that Logan may be safely tucked away in the federal witness protection program with a new identity.
Ladson said he followed up on this lead and could never confirm the theory.
“At first I looked at this as a lead and a resource. But I checked with the FBI...[and] I’ve checked with other jurisdictions as well, and so far there has been no verification that an agent was ever working with Allean,” said Ladson.
It appears to be another dead end, and the family is still no closer to finding out what happened to the troubled young mother.
The pain of her sister’s disappearance became too much for Sabrina Logan. Two years ago, she and Jerome moved from the District to North Carolina so he could have a quieter life. But he still wants to know why his mother vanished and left him alone inside their apartment.
“We love her,” said Stephanie Logan. “We miss her. We just want her to come home.”