Missing in mid-Michigan
Mid-Michigan, Mich. (WNEM) - Several women in mid-Michigan disappeared without a trace. Months and even years later, their families hope someone will come forward with the key to cracking their case.
“She loved our church band and she just loved the music,” said Melinda Palmer, a friend of Teresa Towne-Woolard.
It was at the Bridge Church in Flint where Palmer and Woolard leaned on each other to get through one of their hardest journeys.
“We shared a lot of stories, a lot of healing,” Palmer said. “We shared a lot of support and a lot of healing in our journey through recovery together.”
Both battled the vicious cycle of addiction, but they found solace at the church.
“She never would have left her girls or her church or the pastors here who she became very close with or her friends. She just wouldn’t, no matter what. And so, it’s scary. It’s scary for me to think she just vanished,” Palmer said.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 11, 2016, Woolard sent a text to one of her daughters. It was the last time anyone has heard from her.
Woolard was last seen walking along Hemphill Road from her apartment complex, Kings Lane Apartments in Burton, toward Fenton Road with a male. Police have not been able to identify that man.
“I hope she’s still safe somewhere and maybe can’t get to a phone and contact somebody. I pray she’s still healthy and I’m going to continue to work the case as if she is until I hear different,” Burton Police Det. Don Schreiber said.
Now, 11 months after she disappeared, Schreiber said there have been no new witnesses and no new evidence in her case.
It’s a similar story for seven other women from the Flint area, all of who have gone missing in recent years without a trace.
Elizabeth Land was last seen in February of 2009 in Flint after leaving to meet up with a friend at a local bar.
Sylvia Galvan was last seen in October of 2011 in Mt. Morris.
Jina Collins was last seen on New Year’s Eve in 2013 at the corner of Fenton and Pettibone Road in Flint.
Laquandra Slater was last seen in December of 2016 in Flint Township. Her car was found abandoned in Flint near Atherton and Van Slyke Road.
Presley Rau, also known as Amy Jo, was last seen in August of 2017 in Flint.
Claudia Wilson was also last seen in August of 2017 in Flint. Her possessions were left behind.
Brianna Vibert was last seen in July of 2017 in Flint.
“She was fun. She was a good mom. She was very mature for her age, very insightful. She was a wise soul. I miss her very much,” said Bobbi Jo Stone, Vibert’s mother.
Vibert, a mother of four, was last seen July 15 at the Mobil Gas Station on Saginaw Street in Flint.
For her mother, the last few months have been torturous.
“The not knowing is the worst thing. I think all of our family we are bouncing back and forth between, ‘no, she’s gotta be out there. She’s gotta be alive.’ And then trying to be realistic and trying to prepare yourself for the worst,” Stone said.
Heidi Foster is investigating Vibert’s case.
“She doesn’t deserve what happened and her family deserves to know what happened. They deserve justice for her and her children,” Foster said.
Foster spends most of her free time searching for clues in hopes of figuring out exactly what happened to Vibert.
She is not a police officer, she doesn’t even know Vibert, but she said something about Vibert’s story that struck a chord with her.
“She is me 15 to 20 years ago. The kids, the life,” Foster said.
She said she won’t rest until Vibert is brought home.
“I want to find her and I will. I won’t stop. I will continue on. I will continue talking to people,” Foster said.
In the days leading up to their disappearances, many of the women were last seen in or around the south side of Flint.
With so many missing in the same area, some wonder if a sex trafficking ring is targeting women who walk the streets in that area.
Schreiber doesn’t suspect so.
“I’m not going to say it is or it isn’t. I have no evidence to prove that it is, but I don’t want anyone to let their guard down either,” he said.
The FBI and the Burton, Flint Township, and city of Flint police departments have not been able to find any conclusive links between the eight women.
The departments all met about two months ago and were not able to find any ties or common associates connecting them, except for being seen at some point in or near the south side of Flint.
Schreiber hopes this story leads to more tips.
“Somebody has maybe spoke to somebody about something, regardless of how little or frivolous it is. We need them kind of people to come forward to us,” Schreiber said.
All the families of the eight missing women can do is pray for closure, pray that somehow, someway they will get the answers they so desperately need.
Flint police said they do not comment on ongoing investigations.
As for Vibert’s case out of Flint Township, TV5 connected her family with Bring Our Missing Home - an organization that investigates missing person cases.
Bring Our Missing Home’s founder said it uncovered new information in Vibert’s disappearance and is now working with the detective on her case.
Bring Our Missing Home is also working on Sylvia Galvan’s and Teresa Towne-Woolard’s cases.
If you know anything about any of these cases, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-422-JAIL. You can remain anonymous.
Copyright 2022 WNEM. All rights reserved.