Toni Jacobs drove through Richmond one late Tuesday evening on a door-to-door search for her daughter, 21-year-old Keeshae Jacobs.
The 46-year old hadn't spoken to her since the night before, when she texted that she would spend the night with a friend and return to their home the next day.
After visiting the last house on her quest to locate each of Keeshae's friends, Toni drove straight to the police station to file a missing persons report around 2 am on Wednesday morning.
Keeshae's phone was sliding to voicemail. She had officially been gone for 48 hours. This was six months ago.
Keeshae's phone was sliding to voicemail. She had officially been gone for 48 hours.
Toni tells Elite Daily:
“It took the police like a day before they contacted me after I filed the report. I don't think they really even took it seriously at first because she was 21. They were like, “How you know she didn't run away?”
Toni stresses that Keeshae running away with no word is not like her.
The two had always been very close. Keeshae was a cheerleader in elementary and middle school, while Toni coached the squad.
Toni shares that her daughter confided in her often about boys and other basic things most young women experience. Their relationship was comprised of scary movie nights, mall trips and frequent calls and texts throughout the day.
“I talked to my daughter every day, all day long. Keeshae would keep that phone charged up. If it died, she would stop by her aunt's house to charge it and let me know.”
I talked to my daughter every day, all day long.
Keeshae is small in stature, weighing only 100 pounds and standing at 5 feet 3 inches tall.
According to her best friend, DeMarcus Hunt,
She is tough but sensitive and has the biggest heart. She picks with you when you're down just to put a smile on your face. The party to the room.
Keeshae was last seen wearing pink "black basketball shorts, pink and black Nike basketball shoes and a pink scarf," according to police statements in the local CBS 6 news.
The young woman also had a close relationship with her older brother, 25-year old Daevon Jacobs, who returned to the family home from jail just over a week before his sister went missing.
Keeshae had been counting down the days until his return and referred to him as “the whole other half of me," making the notion of her running away a week later all the more odd.
Police officers dropped runaway theories after the case took a confusing turn.
The Wednesday after Toni filed the report, three of her friends, including DeMarcus Hunt, visited Toni's home with news they had previously withheld about her whereabouts the day she went missing:
Hunt had driven Keeshae to the home of a young man (name unreleased due to ongoing investigation), believing that she would meet a mutual female friend (also unnamed) there.
Toni immediately drove to his house for answers.
She tells Elite Daily,
“When I questioned the guy, his story was just crazy.”
He admitted to knowing Keeshae and seeing her the day she went missing, but says she called a ride and left his home. After a few story switch-ups, Toni called police to the scene.
Officers searched, but found no sign of Keeshae in his home.
Toni also questioned Keeshae's friends.
Hunt told Toni that he received a text message from the female friend, confirming she would meet Keeshae at the place he was dropping her off. The female friend told Toni that she never sent it, and maintained her position when police questioned her.
Their strongest lead fizzled as quickly as it appeared. No other substantial leads surfaced.
The case is currently open, but at a standstill.
Their strongest lead fizzled as quickly as it appeared.
Toni created the Help Find Keeshae Jacobs Facebook page and held two rallies, one not far from the house where Keeshae was last seen.
She credits another painful event with keeping her daughter's name fresh in the local media.
On January 8, Keeshae's brother, Daevon, was shot in Richmond; police pronounced him dead on arrival.
The shooter, 39-year old James D. Henshaw, was charged with first-degree murder and has an April court date. The murder and Keeshae's disappearance are not connected.
Tearfully, Toni describes her healing process.
“To be honest, I don't think I have even fully grieved for my son because I still have to be strong for my daughter. I go to his grave every day unless there's bad weather. Just to talk to him because I miss talking to him too. I give him updates on Keeshae and tell him when I've made new flyers. I can't even explain to you how I feel not being able to talk to him and to go through this by myself until his sister comes home.”
I don't think I have even fully grieved for my son because I still have to be strong for my daughter.
She keeps up a strict coping routine.
Jacobs works her day job as a dispatcher, takes trips to the Maury Street Cemetery to visit Daevon, keeps up Keeshae's Facebook page and typically watches cartoons at night until she drifts off.
“And that's if I don't have to take a sleeping pill to go to sleep at night.”
Another difficult part is pranksters not taking her daughter's case seriously.
After the rally, I was getting a lot of crank calls. People were sending fake messages on Facebook. One person called and said, 'Ma, ma.' I asked 'Who is this?' And they'd say, 'Your daughter' and then they would hang up. People were saying she was abducted by Muslims, photoshopping her face on Muslim women's pictures and posting them on Facebook. People have lied to store owners, saying that Keeshae has been found and asking them to take her pictures down.
Toni has since stopped accepting many friend requests and notifies police about every prank phone call and Facebook post.
As the national conversation about missing black girls picks up, Toni expresses her frustrations with assumptions made about them and overall media coverage.
“I don't want to make it a race thing, but in so many ways, it is a race thing. When you see the white girls who come up missing, it's broadcasted everywhere. But when a black girl goes missing, I hardly see anything."
To Toni's point, it is easy to recall missing white girls and women who became household names, thanks to the media.
Movies have been made detailing the before and after circumstances surrounding their case. Books critiquing their cases and family members have gone to print.
There's Laci Peterson who, along with her unborn child, went missing in 2002 and was later found murdered by her husband, Scott Peterson.
Her case sparked a national outrage. Media outlets shared her photo and covered the story incessantly. A Lifetime movie was made about her case, starring Dean Cain as Scott Peterson.
Eighteen-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared in 2005 during a trip with friends to Aruba after graduating from high school.
Her face also became a staple in the news for several months. Eleven years later, in 2016, media outlets returned to the story of her disappearance.
Her case also earned a film and later, a follow-up picture.
And there's no case more exemplary than JonBenét Patricia Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty pageant queen who went missing in 1996.
Twenty years later, her life is still prime for media coverage in the form of a 2016 magazine cover, documentary and Lifetime film.
Meanwhile, black women's stories usually only stretch as far as the local news, if they are — as Toni describes how she got her daughter's name circulated in Richmond — "lucky.”
One of the only high-profile missing cases of a black woman is the Carlina White story, which was recounted in a Lifetime film like the women and girls previously mentioned.
Carlina White was the exception, not the rule.
The major difference: She solved her own kidnapping case as an adult after a birth certificate mix-up revealed she was taken as an infant.
Outlets like Newsday and the New York Times covered her kidnapping in 1987, but she received national coverage after discovering her true identity in 2011.
Carlina White was the exception, not the rule.
As shared in a previous post about the missing black girls in DC, part of the problem many have with the media today is how the view on black girls and women seems to affect the coverage they receive — coverage that could lead to their safe return home.
Toni Jacobs shares,
“I wish people would stop making the assumption about a young black woman that she must have run away or that she's running the street or hot in the ass. Stop thinking the negative and the worst first before you think about wanting to help.”
Stop thinking the negative and the worst first before you think about wanting to help.
If you have any information on the disappearance of Keeshae Jacobs, please contact Major Crimes Detective William Thompson at 804-646-3925 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.