Details of Disappearance
Ke'Shaun was last seen at his residence in the 1400 block of north 17th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1995. His mother, Tina Vanderhorst, told her relatives and police that the Department of Human Services (DHS) had taken the child. Her family became suspicious, however, and her sister reported Ke'Shaun as a missing person on October 13. Investigators who searched Tina's apartment in the 1400 block of 17th Street after the child went missing described it as filthy, cluttered and rat-infested. Tina repeated the story about Ke'Shaun being in DHS custody, but the DHS had no child by that name in their care. She was arrested for parole violation. Later, she was charged with dealing in infants, endangering the welfare of a child and corrupting the morals of a minor.
Tina had long-standing problem with drugs and alcohol at the time of Ke'Shaun's disappearance, and her boyfriend had threatened to remove Ke'Shaun from her custody as a result. He had previously been in foster care while his mother was incarcerated. Ke'Shaun was given back his mother in November 1994, after Tina was released from prison. He was classified as being at low risk for abuse, as his mother had never been accused of harming or neglecting him. She had been in jail when he was born and he was taken away from her immediately. Beginning in January 1995, a social worker visited the family regularly to provide counseling to Tina and help her care for her son. DHS workers who observed Tina during this time described her as a devoted mother and found no evidence of drug use. After six months, they requested that the DHS close their file on Ke'Shaun, as they didn't believe he and Tina needed supervision. In August 1995, the file was closed. Ke'Shaun disappeared the following month.
Tina had given birth to seven children, including Ke'Shaun, by 1995. Four of her children died in the 1980s. Eight-month-old Terrance Slaughter died in 1980, three-month-old Catrina Stephens died in 1983, and ten-month-old Kenneth Stephens died in 1985. Those deaths were attributed to pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Tina's daughter Marie was born premature and addicted to crack cocaine in 1988. She weighed only one pound at birth and she never left the hospital before she died at age four weeks. Tina's remaining two sons, born in 1986 and 1987, had never lived with her; they were living with their paternal grandmother at the time Ke'Shaun vanished. Tina visited them regularly.
After her story about Ke'Shaun and the DHS was proved to be false, Tina stated that she sold Ke'Shaun to an African-American female named Virginia Graham. She was paid $500 in twenty-dollar bills and used the money to buy crack cocaine. A sketch of the woman is posted below this case summary. She is described as being approximately 35 to 40 years old in 1995, 5'4 and 140 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. The abductor's ears are pierced and she was well-dressed; she wore a maroon skirt, a cream-colored shirt or jacket and designer fingernails. Tina stated that Graham, whom she did not know, visited her apartment one day and offered to take Ke'Shaun because "someone" told her Tina was having difficulty caring for him. Graham drove a light blue four-door sedan with the letters "AL" in the license plate number. She had a white child seat inside the car for Ke'Shaun. She told Tina she lived in Philadelphia, was married and had two children of her own. Graham, if she exists, has never been identified.
Tina later changed her story yet again and stated that, while under the influence of drugs, she took Ke'Shaun at a friend's fruit stand on Cecil B. Moore Avenue. She could not remember what happened to the child after that. Tina frequently left Ke'Shaun at the fruit stand for short periods of time prior to his disappearance, but would always come back and get him eventually. Neighbors reported Ke'Shaun always wore clean clothing and did not appear hungry or abused prior to his disappearance, and they never saw Tina mistreat him, but she would frequently leave him in the care of others, sometimes overnight.
Neither Ke'Shaun nor the woman Tina told the police about have been heard from again. His mother pleaded no contest to child endangerment in connection with his case in November 1996, and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 7 years in prison. At her sentencing hearing, Tina denied having sold Ke'Shaun and repeated her story about giving him to a strange woman who came to her door. She said she was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and thought the woman was a DHS worker. Police began reinvestigating Tina's other children's deaths after Ke'Shaun disappeared. No charges were filed, however.
Tina was arrested for prostitution at least once after her release from prison. In October 2016, she was charged with murder, robbery, arson and other offenses in connection with the September death of a Germantown, Pennsylvania man. She allegedly stabbed him 77 times in his apartment and set his body on fire. A photo of Tina at the time of her murder arrest is posted below this case summary. She was acquitted at trial in September 2017.
Ke'Shaun has never been located.
Left: Sketch of alleged abductor;
Right: Tina Vanderhorst in 2016