Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced the launch of the Missing Persons Project on Sept.1, reports WTTW news. The initiative will assign several new detectives to longtime missing person cases. For years, Chicago police and media have been accused of not doing enough to solve missing person cases in the area.
Angela Martin-Fields spoke at the announcement, sharing her experience looking for her mother Viola Martin who has been missing since 2009.
“My mom did have a drug problem but she was clean for five years,” Martin-Fields said. “We thought it was probably just a little relapse, like three days, that’s it … we just left her house from Christmas and she was going to my sister’s house … to take her a plate because she just got out the hospital. After that, we didn’t hear from my mom or see our mother again.”
The initiative aims to target at least 170 cases dating back to 1930, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
“Our goal is to help the different families who have had their hearts torn out, families who thought at any moment their loved one will walk through that door,” Dart said. “Our hope is some of these cases will be resolved so families will finally have the resolution they never had.”
“When you look at what we have today in 2020, 2021, there are some new technologies, new things we can do to help,” Commander Dion Trotter added.
Reverend Robin Hood, one of the creators of the community organization Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE), expressed stories like Angela’s are all too common. She said people with a history of substance abuse are overlooked by law enforcement when they’re reported missing.
“It should not make a difference because that’s somebody’s mother, sister, daughter, wife, cousin, neighbor, a loved one,” Hood said. “To say, well, they were sex workers and they didn’t deserve to live is so inhumane.”
“Law enforcement needs to answer the phones,” Hood added. “The detectives that are assigned to the cases of the missing girls and women, they need to answer the phone. If you are white, they investigate those murders. Black families have to deal with the fact that law enforcement don’t find this at the top of their, of the food chain, so to speak.”
As Blavity previously reported, a project titled “Unforgotten 51” was put together to “humanize” and uncover the truths about 51 women who were brutally killed in Chicago dating as far back as 20 years. Dozens of more women and girls in Chicago are still being reported as missing.