CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Two weeks ago, Kierra Coles would have turned 29. Her baby would be a toddler. But, three months pregnant and excited for her new beginning, the postal worker disappeared from Chicago’s south side in 2018.
Her parents have not given up hope, but all this time handing out flyers and keeping the search going has been hard.
“I’m crushed, I’m hurt, I’m confused, I’m lost,” said Joe Coles, Kierra’s father.
Kierra Coles was 26 when she vanished. It was supposed to begin the defining chapter of her life.
“I know she’d be a wonderful mother,” said Kierra Coles’ mother, Karen Phillips. “I have to wake up every day and go through this every day.”
Kierra was excited about her future. She had a steady job, was renting an apartment, and had saved up for her own car. That car was found Oct. 2, 2018, half a block away from her home. Inside were her prenatal bag from a recent visit to the clinic, her packed lunch, and her cellphone.
Kierra has not been seen since.
“I couldn’t get in touch with her all that day, on [Oct. 3],” Phillips said. “I called them to do a well-being check and then once we found out she wasn’t in there, and I told them I’ve been calling her all day yesterday, but there was no response, that’s when I made the missing person report.”
Her co-workers and union joined the search. Mack Julion, president of the local chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers, vowed not to let the case go cold.
The NALC is offering a $3,500 reward for information that helps find Kierra Coles. The postal service is offering a $25,000 reward of their own.
“Since October 2018, Postal Inspectors have tracked down and vetted nearly 400 leads across the country,” the Chicago division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said in a statement. “We cannot begin to imagine the level of pain, grief, and frustration felt by Ms. Coles’ family, friends, and community. We share those feelings.”
The only lead so far came from a video that some believed showed Kierra Coles walking near her apartment, but Phillips doesn’t think that’s her daughter.
“In the beginning, I went along with it because I thought it would help us,” Phillips said. “I thought, OK, somebody was like, ‘Oh, they think that’s her, so they ain’t on the right track.’ OK, I thought they’ll slip up and [police] will catch them in something, but here we are three years later and it didn’t help nothing.”
Joe Coles said police questioned him about her daughter’s disappearance, but he and Phillips are suspicious that Kierra Coles’ boyfriend at the time may know something. Joe Coles said the man is now dating someone else and has moved to another state
Chicago police have not said if either are persons of interest, but said in a statement, “The Coles case remains a high-risk missing person investigation with potential foul play suspected.” They asked anyone with information to reach out.
At this point, anybody with knowledge of her last whereabouts is asked to contact the Chicago Police Department. We are seeking any and all information in an attempt to locate her and we won’t stop until we do.
“I am very angry about this situation,” Joe Coles said. “The people that was involved should have never been able to leave this state, period.”
Kierra Coles’ case caught the attention of artist Damon Lamar Reed, and was the start of his most meaningful project yet. He’s drawn murals of Chicago’s missing girls and women. It’s a cause close to his own heart: his aunt and two cousins were murdered in 1984; their killer is still free.
“My greatest joy would be if one of these paintings I did help bring back some information or bring back some answers,” Reed said.
The mural also creates a space for Phillips to honor her daughter, and brings a smile to her face. It helps fulfill one of Kierra Coles’ dreams in life: she wanted to be a star.
“She just wanted to be seen or heard,” Phillips said. “That was gonna be her next goal: to get on TV some type of way.
“We just never imagined in this way.”
Three years has not given them the answers they need. The family is still passing out flyers, hoping the lead they’re missing shakes loose.
Joe Coles said scammers have been calling him, claiming to share the whereabouts of his daughter — if he pays them money. The cruelty only adds to the pain.
“I’m tired of crying,” Joe Coles said. “But everyone wouldn’t understand unless you’re walking in these shoes.”