Family wants missing girl's case kept in spotlight

July 9, 2008 3:51:00 PM PDT
Family and friends of a missing Chicago teenager aren't satisfied with the search effort by police. But authorities claim there's evidence that 15-year-old Yasmine Acree ran away from home.

Acree vanished from her West Side home almost six months ago. The family says they do not want her to be forgotten. Family members, religious leaders and community activists say that police have not given this case the attention it should be getting. They believe it is because Acree is a young African-American girl from the West Side of Chicago.

"She's an African American, 15-year-old honor student, from the West Side, that this case is not necessarily getting attention that it deserves," said Marshall Hatch, reverenc and community activist.

"Frankly, a little insulting, we investigate every case of crime or missing persons. And we take it very seriously. We have over 2,000 man hours invested in this case. We met on two occasions," said Police Commander Joseph Salemme.

The 15-year-old vanished from her home located in the 4800-block of Congress on Jan. 16. Acree's adopted mother, Rose Starnes, believes her daughter was abducted. She showed off the gates leading to the young girl's bedroom in the basement and says one of the locks was broken and left behind by police.

"We told the police that that lock was cut off the gate in order for someone to get into the basement. The thing is they didn't take the lock for fingerprints or anything," said Starnes.

"The lock issue is not going to go away. It's not going to go away? Somebody fumbled the ball," said Ira Acree, victim's uncle and community activist.

Commander Salemme said he could not comment about the lock.

Starnes says her daughter was not the type of child to runaway police believe otherwise.

"We believe that's a potential," said Salemme.

Community leaders say they do not understand why other cases of missing children and adults get national coverage and attention.

"We know when Stacy Peterson is missing, it is -- I mean, there's a national interest," said Hatch..

"It's been really, really rough, really rough, and as the time passed, it goes harder and harder and doesn't get any easier or better. That's why I really want the police to do like they're supposed to and really help find Yasmine," said Starnes.

At the time of Yasmine Acree's disappearance, her mother was renting a room to her former boyfriend, and he was the last person to see the young girl January 15, the night before she was reported missing. The mother says he was questioned by police and no longer lives in her home. The family added they will not give up and will continue to hold prayer vigils and pray for her safe return home.


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