Details of Disappearance Lenoria was last seen with her great-aunt, Berlean Williams, on July 20, 1995 in their hometown of Tacoma, Washington. They lived in the 1900 block of south Sheridan Avenue in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma.
Williams had legal custody of Lenoria at the time and was in the process of adopting the child. She also ran a day care center. The identity of Lenoria's father is not known, and her mother had her legal rights to her daughter terminated by 1995.
Lenoria and her mother had never lived together; her mother gave her to relatives to raise when she born. She spent the first two years of her life living with relatives in the Spokane, Washington area before being placed in Williams's care. Lenoria's mother resided in Arkansas in 1995.
Williams initially told authorities that Lenoria disappeared inside the Target store on South 23rd Street in Tacoma during the day. Investigators believed Williams's account until Target management provided a security videotape showing Williams entering the store alone. There was no sign of Lenoria anywhere nearby.
Williams reported her grand-niece's disappearance to police at 9:42 a.m., but at 8:47 a.m. she had called her daughter and said she did not know the child's whereabouts. She had no explanation for why she waited an hour to alert authorities that Lenoria had vanished.
Williams changed her statements to authorities numerous times after the discovery of the videotape. Among Williams's claims were the stories that Lenoria wandered away from her home, was abducted from the Target parking lot and that two unidentified African-American men kidnapped Lenoria near their residence on south Sheridan Avenue.
Williams then said that the child was safe and living in an undisclosed location. Lenoria's mother says she called Williams and asked to speak to Lenoria two days prior to the child's disappearance, but was not permitted to talk to her.
Authorities placed Williams under house arrest for four months after Lenoria's disappearance for failure to provide case information. Her day care center was also shut down by the state. Williams has never been charged in connection with Lenoria's case. Her lawyer maintains that her accounts of Lenoria's whereabouts differed due to badgering by law enforcement.
Authorities have ruled out other members of Lenoria's family, most of whom live in Arkansas, as possible suspects in her disappearance. Some officials believe foul play may have been involved in her case; others believe she is still alive in an unknown location.
Some investigators theorize that she may have died from an accidental overdose of Norpramin, a tricyclic antidepressant prescribed to treat her ADHD. She had been taking the drug for only a matter of days prior to her disappearance. It is not usually prescribed for young children and has a number of serious side effects, including a skin rash, seizures and death, that can occur in the first few days after starting the medication. There is no evidence to support the overdose theory, however.
Lenoria's disappearance remains open and unsolved.
- Tacoma Police Department
Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 28, 2014; middle names added.