updated 08/22/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/22/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT
On July 18, the last day anyone saw Latoyia Figueroa, the five-months-pregnant Philadelphia woman and the baby's father, ex-boyfriend Stephen Poaches, went to see her obstetrician for a checkup. Afterward they went to Poaches's apartment. Around 5 p.m. she left—peaceably, Poaches told Philadelphia police. But that evening Figueroa, 25, didn't pick up her 7-year-old daughter Izhanae and never showed up for her next wait-ressing shift. Since then, "there's been no evidence of her existence. No credit cards, no cell phone, nothing," says Chief of Detectives Joseph Fox. "We're kind of stymied."
Figueroa, a black Hispanic, received scant attention nationally until a local blogger, Richard Blair, sent a letter to CNN chastising it for ignoring the case. "The media has been shamed into covering this story," says Poaches's attorney Michael Coard. "But you're doing the right thing." Police have searched Poaches's car and house and interviewed him several times. Figueroa's family, meanwhile, has spearheaded almost daily searches around Philadelphia. Says her father, Melvin Figueroa, 44, a construction subcontractor: "I can barely eat. I can barely sleep. I just want her back."
Shasta Groene Case
As Shasta Groene, 8, continues to recover from her kidnapping ordeal, she has apparently helped police solve an old murder case. Joseph Duncan III, charged with killing Shasta's mother and brother Slade in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, allegedly bragged to her about a California boy he had murdered. Shasta passed the information to the FBI. The admission rang a bell with detectives in Beaumont, Calif., who were still looking for the killer of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez in April 1997. Detectives say they matched Duncan's thumbprint to one that had been left on duct tape placed over Anthony's mouth. Duncan hasn't been charged, but if he's convicted, Shasta may get part of the $100,000 reward.