It has been Eighteen years since a poster offering a $10,000 reward was posted at the Wentworth District police station.
Tionda would be 28 this year and Diamond 21.
Despite the years, the girls’ relatives still think about them every day. And a private investigator, who has been working closely with the family and a retired police detective, who has continued to investigate the case, said they have no plans to give up trying to solve one of Chicago’s enduring mysteries.
Tionda, 10, and Diamond, 3, disappeared from their apartment in the Oakland neighborhood the morning of July 6, 2001. Tracey Bradley, the girls’ mother, told authorities she last saw her daughters about 6:30 a.m. before leaving for work at Robert Taylor Park, where she prepared lunches for children in a summer camp program. She returned to the apartment in the early afternoon to find a note, apparently written by Tionda, placed on the back of a couch that said her daughters had gone to a nearby school and store.
Tracey Bradley told the Tribune in 2001 that she searched for hours that day before calling the police at 6:30 p.m. that night, sparking a massive investigation.
“State police, FBI, Chicago, they threw everything they had at it,” Carroll said. “They set up a hotline, they set up a command post. As far as I know, there were entire (tactical) teams and detectives detailed to this investigation … at least for the first month, if not longer. When the tips started slowing down, it was full-court press.”
In the beginning, a rotating crew of 100 detectives worked around the clock, searching sewers, lagoons, abandoned buildings and factories, digging through garbage and interviewing more than 100 sex offenders in the area. More than 30 relatives were interviewed, then re-interviewed and interviewed yet again, the Tribune reported at the time.
Rumors spread in the neighborhood, and tips poured in, nearly a thousand in all. A few psychics claimed to have visions of the location of the girls’ bodies, while one tipster said the girls were being held as sex slaves in a small town in central Illinois. Another tip was that a man believed to be Tionda’s biological father from Morocco had kidnapped the girls, taking the investigation overseas. But none of the leads panned out.
By the time Carroll began investigating the case, paperwork in the Bradley sisters’ case filled more than five filing cabinets, he said.
Every year, the family holds a vigil on the anniversary of their disappearance to honor the girls and spark interest in the case.
Shelia Bradley-Smith, the girls’ great-aunt who now lives in Minneapolis, said to a degree, the family remains stuck in 2001.
Carroll said the most important evidence gathered in the investigation were hairs found in the trunk of a van that Tracey Bradley said belonged to the man she identified as Diamond’s father. A month before the girls’ disappearance, Tracey Bradley had filed a paternity suit against the man, but the case was later dismissed. Tests showed the hairs could have belonged to either the girls, or their mother, but the evidence didn’t propel the case further.
The girls disappeared just a day before Victoria Bradley’s ninth birthday. Until recent years, Bradley, who turns 24 on Thursday, said she was unable to celebrate her birthday because of her depression over the anniversary of their disappearance.
The girls’ disappearance has been featured on national TV shows such as “America’s Most Wanted,” and on social media, some people still campaign for the search for the girls.
I think who ever took them knew them pretty well. Well enough to know they were home alone, this is an age progression photo of what they may look like now. Please if you have any information contact your local police department.
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