In the news. . . Pregnant Philadelphia mother of one missing
Last seen on July 18; reward offered
Wednesday, July 27, 2005; Posted: 1:58 p.m. EDT (17:58 GMT)
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- The Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission, with the help of a Philadelphia blogger, have launched a reward fund for information leading to Latoyia Figueroa, a 24-year-old pregnant mother of one who has been missing since July 18.
Figueroa went to a doctor's appointment with a male friend on that afternoon, police said, but did not show up to retrieve her 7-year-old daughter from day care later that day.
Stephanie Stephenson, a relative who raised Figueroa after her mother was killed when she was a toddler, told CNN that Figueroa, five months pregnant, left the friend's house in west Philadelphia "and disappeared."
Her cell phone -- a constant companion -- has gone quiet for the nine days she has been missing, and her bank has recorded no transactions.
"The Philadelphia police and the detectives are involved now, and they're making this their priority case," Stephenson said, adding that the very close family was bearing the strain "as well as can be expected."
"Her mother was my first cousin," she said. "We were raised together as sisters. ... We're holding up by the grace of God."
Philadelphia Police Lt. Frank Vanore said authorities have no suspects in custody.
"We're trying to interview everybody that she knew, but as far as leads or evidence found to show us something might have happened -- no," Vanore said.
Vanore said Figueroa was a victim of robbery in April, but police believe that was an isolated incident unrelated to her disappearance.
Santo Montecalvo, vice president of the Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission, said the commission's reward fund had reached $10,000 Wednesday morning. And Richard Blair of Philadelphia has launched a drive for the reward fund through his blog, allspinzone.com.
"The Citizens Crime Commission does not have a way to make a donation online so we've taken up that task," he said.
Blair said he has been covering this story on his site because he does not think it has gotten the publicity it deserves.
"I just didn't feel that this story had been given any publicity -- young, black woman out of the ghetto. ... I want them to know that there's people out there thinking about them," he said.
Blair said he hopes fellow bloggers will not see this as a political issue, but will come together to increase publicity and donate to the reward fund.
"In a situation like this where you have a network of blogs working together, there's not politics to this story. This could happen to anyone of us," he said.
Meanwhile, family and friends have been searching a park near where she disappeared and passing out flyers with the diminutive, 5-foot-2 Figueroa's picture.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Philadelphia Southwest detective division at 215-686-3183. http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/07/27/Philadelphia.missing/index.html