By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
This is part of an ongoing series about missing Black women and girls by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association that represents African American-owned newspapers and media companies across the country.
Kierra Coles was checking off some critical milestones in her life when she suddenly vanished in 2018 from her Southside Chicago neighborhood.
Kierra sought steady employment, which she had found in 2017 when the U.S. Postal Service hired her.
The 26-year-old wanted her own apartment, and just months earlier, she accomplished that. And, she desired the opportunity to purchase a new car, which she did.
Kierra also wanted a baby with her longtime boyfriend.
At the time of her disappearance on October 3, 2018, she was two months pregnant.
“She was already excited about becoming a mother,” Karen Phillips, Kierra’s mother, told ABC News shortly after Kierra disappeared. “That’s all my child ever wanted, to be a mom and accomplish all the things she set to accomplish – to have a nice paying job which she had, to get a new car which she bought, to move into her own apartment which she did, and to become a mother which she was about to.”
While the Postal Inspection Service and Kierra’s family have offered a combined $45,000 reward for information concerning her disappearance, police have failed to come up with any solid leads.
Although she called in sick on the day of her disappearance, Kierra was spotted on a surveillance camera outside of her apartment at 81st Street and Vernon Avenue in full postal carrier uniform.
Investigators found Kierra’s car still parked in front of her apartment. The vehicle contained her purse, cell phone, and the lunch she presumably had packed for the day.
“Her family and friends need answers,” Nakia Artis wrote on a Change.org petition that urges law enforcement to keep up the search for Kierra.
“This has taken too long. This young lady and her unborn [child] deserve justice,” Artis stated.
More than 1,500 people have signed the petition, which seeks to “help keep our law enforcement accountable for Kierra Coles and all other unsolved and closed missing person cases.”
According to data provided by the FBI, more than 600,000 people went missing in America last year. At least 180,000 of the missing were Black, despite African Americans making up just 13 percent of the total U.S. population.
According to an analysis published by the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology titled “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” just one-fifth of cases where African Americans go missing receive media attention.
“Blacks face dual types of disparity, as they are both less likely to appear in the news at all and also tend to receive less coverage even when they do appear,” study authors wrote.
Relatives of missing people of color “often feel like they’re stereotyped as being involved in some type of criminal activity, or that’s the life that’s lived in that particular community or neighborhood, so their lives are not valued,” Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., said in an interview with ABC News.
Kierra’s family remains hopeful, however.
“Not a day goes past I don’t think about my child and what she could be going through, what may have happened to her,” Phillips stated. “I feel she is alive – being held where I wouldn’t know.”
Kierra is described as 5-foot-4 inches tall and about 125 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. She has a tattoo of a heart on her right hand, and “Lucky Libra” on her back.
If anyone has information about Kierra, call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and provide a case identification number, 2693502-WPV. Or, call the Chicago Police Special Victims Unit at 312-747-8274.