The mother of a girl who disappeared more than six years ago is still in search of her adult child.
Unique RaQuel-Leona Harris went missing from her home in Southeast, D.C. on Oct. 10, 2010. The 24-year-old vanished in the middle of the night, leaving her belongings, two children, her mother, and a cousin behind.
Even though the Metropolitan Police Department said they close more than 99 percent of the District’s missing person cases, the 24-year-old’s case falls within that one percent of open cases.
“Its been a long, long, six, seven years,” Valencia Harris, Unique’s mother, told the AFRO on April 9.
Harris said she has been in search of her daughter since her disappearance, “I’m just a strong faith woman. I don’t know where my child is, but God knows. That keeps me pushing everyday,” she said.
Harris said Unique lived in her own apartment on the 2400 Block of Hartford Street, SE for five weeks before she went missing. Valencia said her jovial daughter and two young children, U’Andre’ and Richard, moved to D.C. from Richmond, Va. Her new apartment was just five minutes away from Harris’ home, something she said adds to her belief that her daughter was taken. “Someone came in there and took her out in the middle of the night, while my grandsons and niece were still asleep,” she said.
Harris said it would be unusual for Unique to leave her children alone at home, especially because they were just five- and three-years old at the time. “That just didn’t sit right, for her to just leave those children, especially when I live five or so minutes from her,” Harris said.
The children were having a movie night with Unique and her little cousin Talaya, who was 10-years-old at the time, before she disappeared. The kids woke up the next morning around 9 a.m. realizing that their mother was nowhere to be found. They called Talaya’s mother who waited till about 4 p.m to ask Harris about her daughter’s whereabouts.
Harris said her heart dropped after hearing the news that her daughter was unaccounted for. Unique’s grandfather went to the apartment in search of her, and discovered that all of her personal items had been left behind. Eyeglasses, which Unique was dependent on, a bank card, personal identification and a purse, were some of the items still in the Southeast apartment.
Harris explained that she cannot say what her daughter was wearing when she was snatched from her home, because the majority of her clothing and possessions were left behind.
“Ever since that day my life has been hell, every single day,” Harris said.
It took a week or two after her disappearance for Harris to obtain a missing person flyer from D.C. police. She said the department had originally listed her daughter as non-critical.
According to D.C. police, a critical missing person is, “any person under the age of 15 or over the age of 65, or anyone that . . . is mentally incapacitated [or a] patient who presents an imminent danger to him/herself or others.”
Harris has a different perspective on classifying reported person cases, “What in the world is non-critical when you’re talking about a missing person?”
Since the start of Unique’s case, Harris said her daughter has had seven different detectives investigate. Now for the first time two investigators are working at the same time to solve the case. “There is no evidence that suggests that Ms. Harris voluntarily left her home,” a spokesperson for the department, Aquita Brown, told the AFRO on April 11.
There are 47 open missing person cases as of April 11, according to police reports.
Harris has since moved from D.C. She said her grandchildren express their feelings for the loss of their mom in different ways. She said Richard has trouble sleeping since his mom was taken and U’Andre’ is angry at times and often gets into fights.
Unique graduated from John Marshall High School in Richmond, Va. in 2004. She was planning to study massage therapy at Centura College in Virginia before she vanished. Valencia said shortly after her abduction she was accepted into the college. “Until somebody brings me proof that my child is dead we gotta keep on looking for her because in my mind she’s out there somewhere,” Harris said.
Anyone with information about the case should contact D.C. police.