Last year, 543,000 people went missing in the United States. Most of those cases don’t get covered widely regardless of race or social status. But some have noticed that the cases that do rise to the level of national attention overwhelmingly involve young cisgender white women.
This disproportionate media attention was dubbed “missing white woman syndrome” by the late PBS anchor Gwen Ifill.
As those who regularly report on missing persons cases work to rectify these disparities, we're highlighting several people of marginalized communities who have gone missing over the past year.
Nineteen-year-old Miya Marcano went missing in late September near the University of Central Florida and was last seen in the Orlando apartment complex where she lived and worked.
Marcano was scheduled to fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but never boarded her flight.
Armando Manuel Caballero, 27, who was a person of interest in her disappearance, was later found dead.
Mary Johnson was last seen on Nov. 25, 2020. Johnson, a Native American woman, was walking to a friend's house along a road in Washington state, but never arrived at her destination.
It was months of little progress in the case before the FBI offered a reward of up to $10,000 “for info leading to the identification, arrest & conviction of person(s) responsible for the disappearance of Mary Johnson (Davis).“
On June 23, 2021, 24-year-old geologist Daniel Robinson went missing after leaving his job site in Arizona.
Mysteriously, his Jeep was found in a ravine with airbags deployed weeks after he went missing, but Robinson was nowhere to be found.
"This looked like a staged event to me. After the airbags came out, somebody turned that ignition over at least 46 more times," said an accident reconstructionist and private investigator hired by Robinson’s father.
Melinda Felder went missing in 2006. According to the website Our Black Girls, which is committed to telling the stories of missing Black women and crimes against the community, Felder was last seen “leaving home to visit a friend but never returned.”
Her daughter, who was 15 at the time, says her mother suffered seizures.
“After her seizures would pass through she would lose her memory temporarily for like a few hours. She wouldn’t remember where she was at or who nobody was. Then after she slept it off for a few hours she would be OK.”
Some fear Felder may have had a medical emergency that led to her inability to return home.
Aubrey Dameron is a 25-year-old citizen of the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma who went missing in March 2019.
According to a Dateline interview with Dameron’s aunt, the missing trans woman said she was meeting up with a friend but never returned home or answered any calls.
Dameron’s aunt and uncle fear she may have been the victim of a hate crime.
“There were people who mocked her and called her transphobic slurs,” her aunt said. “But she stayed true to herself. And she never wanted revenge. Instead she would pray for them.”
May “Maya” Millete
May "Maya" Millete is a mother of three from Chula Vista, California, and has been missing for several months.
According to NBC San Diego, the Chula Vista police have “conducted 47 interviews, written 12 search warrants and followed up on 40 tips from the community” in Millete’s case.
A friend of Millete's alleges that the missing mother accused her husband Larry of abuse and once said “'Hey, you know if something happened to me, it's gonna be Larry.'"