Saturday, December 17, 2011
DOB: Nov 24, 2009 Missing Date:
Sep 7, 2010
Age Now: 2
Missing State : TN
It's been six long months since little Lauryn Dickens first disappeared. Her mother told Memphis Police she gave away the nine month old baby girl. Until now the rest of the Dickens family has been silent.
For the first time, Lauryn's grandmother opens up about what her daughter says happened to Lauryn and why she believes her granddaughter is alive.
The disappearance of nine month old Lauryn Dickens quickly grabbed the attention of the mid-south and even the nation. The beautiful baby girl vanished in September.
"When I saw Lauryn last she was 9 months old and she was a big girl. She was recognizing us and clinging to us and communicating with us," said her Grandmother Tracey Dickens.
Police say her daughter, Shakara, murdered her baby girl. She agreed to speak with us in the presence of her daughter's attorneys, Arthur Horne and Murray Wells, in her first public statements.
"The situation was so shocking. We didn't want to talk to the media. We didn't want to be on camera in all of our devastation and our grief," Dickens said.
Tracey says that grief is still being felt by her family.
"Our family has been enduring unimaginable pain. There's no greater torture than when an infant is missing. You just don't know what's going on or what she may be suffering."
Police reports say 9-month old Lauryn was last seen alive around the sixth of September. Dickens says her daughter and grandchild lived with her. But, when the grandmother went on a Labor Day weekend trip, she returned to find her daughter had suddenly moved out of her home and into a Raleigh Apartment Complex. The move caused a rift between Tracey and Shakara Dickens. She says she didn't realize Lauryn was missing until a week later.
"She told us the same thing she told everybody else. That's the reason why we went to the police. I know the story sounds amazing but Shakara was in a very difficult place at that time, having full responsibility for both children and trying to live on her own."
On September 15th, Tracey says she took her daughter Shakara to the police. Shakara reported her daughter missing, telling investigators she gave her baby to a woman she didn't know at the direction of Lauryn's incarcerated father, Benjamin Norfleet.
"After that it was just hard to communicate with Shakara. She cried a lot. She never said any more."
According to police reports, Shakara says she told Norfleet she couldn't take care of baby Lauryn.
Tracey said Shakara also told her she was having a hard time raising both of her children.
"Those were personal discussions but mostly she was asking for help because being a teenager with limited income and a toddler, it's a lot to be responsible for," she explained.
Investigators didn't believe Shakara's story. Records show Shakara hadn't spoken to Benjamin Norfleet since late August. In fact, police say Shakara blocked all his calls from the jail. We were there September 21st, as police searched Shakara's Raleigh apartment and brought out evidence. A copy of the search warrant says a cadaver dog found the odor of decomposing human remains inside.
"I don't know how the dog works. Shakara had been in the apartment for a little over a week, anything could have died in there as far as I'm concerned," said Tracey.
When asked if she believes Lauryn is alive Tracey Dickens responded, "I pray everyday that she is." She would later say, "my hope is that someone knows where the baby is and they'll show up with her soon."
Lauryn is part of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children Database. Investigators say they continue to follow leads but have not found Lauryn.
Shakara's lawyers maintain her innocence saying without a body and new evidence the prosecution doesn't have a case. Shakara Dickens remains behind bars, held on a two million dollar bond