Birthday presents were awaiting Desheena Kyle on June 25, but her family members say they never got a chance to give them to her.
After not hearing a word from the 27-year-old Knoxville woman on her big day, they knew something was wrong. Upon visiting him at his apartment in northwest Knoxville, they discovered that his car had not moved for a week and was nowhere to be found.
Now the only gift they want is his safe return home.
On Monday evening, dozens of people gathered for a prayer vigil at Victor Ashe Park to remember the daughter, niece, cousin and friend they love – and to attract the attention to his disappearance.
She was reported missing on June 28 from her Wilson Road apartment. A reward of $ 10,000 is offered for information on his whereabouts.
Police say they are committed to finding Kyle or finding a solution to his case.
“Based on the available evidence and the circumstances of her disappearance as investigators understand it, there is very strong reason to believe that Desheena is in danger and has likely been injured. Due to the ongoing nature of this investigation, we cannot elaborate beyond this, “Knoxville Police Department spokesman Scott Erland said.
While Kyle may have been seen around June 23, his last verified sighting was on June 18.
On Kyle’s 27th birthday, the family got help with a welfare check after neighbors raised concerns, Kyle’s aunt Rita Faye Turner told Knox News. What was incredibly disturbing was that her dog was left behind.
“It was her baby. Her dog was like her child,” Turner told Knox News. “She would never have left her dog alone like this.”
Kyle, a Central High School graduate and aspiring fashion designer, had many hopes and dreams. She had just moved into her new apartment and in the months leading up to her disappearance, she visited other cities and met designers to find inspiration to open a boutique in Knoxville.
“I had helped her put together her apartment and there were two pieces of my kitchen decor that she wanted that matched what she already had. I hesitated, but she looked at me with her eyes. puppy and that little moan with his upper lip, and I gave in. ” Turner said.
It was the effect Kyle had on people. Turner said she was nice and made you want to give her your all.
“She just worked so hard for everything she had accomplished in life.”
The Knoxville Police Department issued a public alert on July 2 saying investigators had good reason to believe Kyle could be in danger.
“This investigation stems from some of the domestic incidents we have been made aware of. We can say that we think there may be foul play, but we just don’t know to what extent,” Turner said.
Bigger issues at stake
Kyle’s disappearance is part of what advocates say is a bigger problem: Black women go missing and their cases don’t get the attention others are getting.
These statistics were part of the Monday night vigil. Community members and friends feel like it’s their job to protect their neighbors when the police don’t do as much as they hope.
“Of all the people who go missing each year, about 60% of these people are black. We are only 13% of the population, black women are 7%, but yet and still we are the largest population to disappear. Anyone know something. We are not just missing. Someone heard something. Someone saw something. said Aabidah Ruhi, lieutenant of POP Tenn, a group of community members dedicated to raising awareness, supporting and taking action to protect the black community through security and patrol efforts.
She told the crowd that no matter how small a tip black women need all the help they can get in these situations.
“Those little details, that sound that you heard that night, the car that you saw go by, could be the information that will help you find it,” Ruhi said.
A lack of urgency on the part of the police – even as the department’s budget increases – continues to be a focal point of the Black Knoxvillians who await answers in the crimes of which they and their loved ones are victims.
“The KPD has $ 60 million to fight violence, but yet in 2021, violence is all we’ve heard. Where is this money going? Give it to the community because we know what we need, ”she urged.
Statistics on missing black women are alarming
When the missing are young, white and female, their cases attract attention. But statistics on those missing tell a different story.
In 2020 alone, 321,859 cases were followed up by the National Crime Information Center where the race of the reported missing was white. In the same year, 182,548 of the missing were black, representing about 13% of the national population.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the association Black and missing foundation, told Knox News that media coverage puts pressure on investigators, which is vital in efforts to recover missing black and brown people. They also highlight Kyle’s case on their website and social channels.
“The media, law enforcement and the community all play a role in speeding up the recovery of a missing person and this also puts pressure on law enforcement to add more resources to it. ‘deal,’ she said.
“Traditionally, we know there is mistrust between the black community and law enforcement, so these anonymous whistleblowers are vital and allow the community to come forward without compromising the identity of the tipster.”
Wilson has said that many times black men, women and children are often categorized as runaways, impoverished or involved in criminal activity – all stereotypes that hamper research efforts.
“We tell the family not to give up. We know when something is out of the norm for our loved ones and we must stand up for their cause. Make your community rally around you and demand service and justice in that case. “Wilson said. .
Erland, the spokesperson for the Knoxville Police Department, said two special crimes investigators were assigned to the disappearance and all resources in the department were being used.
“We have also sent two separate requests for information to the public and continue to actively seek advice or leads through all available avenues. In addition, the lieutenant who oversees the Special Crimes Unit has been actively and personally involved in the process. ‘case to ensure that this progresses and that the general staff is kept informed of any development, “he said.
Community groups involved in support efforts
POP Tenn, Knoxville’s Black Mamas Bailout, C2C Bikers and Bikers Against Abuse International are helping the Kyle and Turner families.
Fahd Walli, commander of POP Tenn, acronym of Protect our People, called for urgency.
“We need our police department to put the pedal to the metal. We need this investigation to be a little bigger. Desheena has been missing for too long,” he said.
Walli also stressed the importance of creating a safe space where victims of domestic violence can come forward to report abuse.
“No one should feel comfortable getting their hands on a woman. This sister should never have called the police, and no one was talking about it. If you love someone, you protect them by all means. necessary, ”he said.
As purple balloons depicting the color of royalty were released into the sky in honor of Kyle, his younger brother said he was not giving up hope.
“We did it all together. All I can do is ask God to take care of my sister. I know she will be seeing it all online soon. We haven’t lost anyone,” he said. declared Trey Robinson III.
About Desheena Kyle
Desheena is around 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
If anyone sees Desheena, he is urged to immediately call 911. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is urged to contact East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477, easttnvalleycrimestoppers.org or the P3 Tips mobile app. Tipsters will remain anonymous and are eligible to receive a cash reward.