Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile a missing person weekly and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing, while TV One‘s newest show, “Find Our Missing,” hosted by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, tells these stories in visual form.
Case Type: Disability, Endangered
Date of Birth : January 18, 1996
Missing Date: July 6, 2013
Date Found: July 8, 2013
Age Now: 17
Missing City: Daytona Beach
Missing State: Florida
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Shoulder length
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: Crowder was last seen on the beach near the Econo Lodge at 1601 S. Atlantic Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Crowder is visiting family in the Central Florida area from Missouri.
She was found Monday in Seminole County, Fla., about 30 minutes away from where she went missing.
Circumstances of Disappearance: In an interview with NewsOne, Crowder’s mother, Kimberly Williams, said her daughter was visiting from Missouri and was spending time on the beach with her daughter-in-law who also had a couple of other children with her.
Crowder, who is developmentally disabled and has the mental capacity of a 9-year-old, was reportedly befriended by another teenager and the pair walked on the beach front within eyesight of Williams’ daughter-in-law. Soon a man reportedly came up to Williams’ daughter-in-law and started asking how she was related to Crowder while flirting with them. Her daughter-in-law reportedly brushed the man off.
Several minutes later, Crowder had disappeared.
“She’s outgoing but very naive. If someone says you want to be my girlfriend, she says, ‘Okay.’ If you spend five minutes with her, she’ll say you’re my friend,” said Williams.
Williams adopted Crowder when she was 15 months old. According to Williams, Crowder was allegedly exposed to drugs in the womb and has several related disorders, such as attention deficit disorder and bi-polar disorder. She needed medications that she did not have with her.
Still, Crowder had been trained on what to do if she got lost, “She has memorized all of our numbers. She would have called us by now,” said Williams who immediately suspected foul play.
Crowder was last seen with a woman and a bald Black man with gold teeth. The man reportedly weighed about 225 pounds, had a beer gut, and appeared to be about 30 years old, according to authorities. The woman is in her late teens and has a dark complexion. Police say the woman had braided hair and a skinny build. She was also wearing a black cotton cover over her bathing suit that had ruffles on it.
Police have released a sketch of the man Crowder may have last been seen with below. It’s unclear if she was with the people in question when she was discovered.
Of the ordeal, Williams said it was difficult not to be worried.
“It makes you think about how this can happen to any young adult. There are sex traffickers who just pick up people so it’s an extremely scary thought. The longer she’s gone the more frightening it becomes,” said Williams.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, said she was “grateful” that Crowder “has been found and will be returned to her mother.”
Still, the case shows the abundance of caution that must be taken when out with children and how quickly a situation can turn dangerous, “Within minutes, this child disappeared and may have been lured away,” Wilson said. “We have to be extra careful when you are out with children, especially individuals with special needs.”
Anyone with information regarding the circumstances of Nicole Crowder’s disappearance should contact the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office at (386) 248-1777 or the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.