Details of Disappearance
Polk was last seen at her residence in the 1100 block of 64th Avenue in Oakland, California on July 6, 2019. She has never been heard from again. Her loved ones reported her missing on July 11 because they weren't able to reach her by phone for several days, which was unusual, and when they went to her residence no one seemed to be home. She lived alone. After her disappearance, several items in her apartment were discovered to be bloodstained, and bedding and pillows were missing. Her purse and keys were on the bed; she never left the house without them.
Later that month, Polk's 33-year-old grandson, Maurice C. Washington Jr., was charged with her murder. The charge carries the special-circumstance allegation that it was committed for financial gain; authorities believe Washington stole his grandmother's credit cards and tried to use them after her disappearance. After he was arrested on an unrelated misdemeanor methamphetamine charge on July 14, he made multiple statements to police indicating Polk was deceased and that he was involved in her death, but has not cooperated with the efforts to find her body.
One relative stated she'd seen Washington on July 9 and he appeared to be drunk and had scratches on his face and blood on his hands, neck and all over his clothes. Other relatives told police that Polk and other members of the family were afraid of Washington, and he had a record for a prior assault on another relative. He also has a felony grand theft conviction from 2008.
In October 2019, Washington was found mentally incompetent to stand trial for the murder. This means he will placed in a secure psychiatric hospital and treated in the hopes that his competency can be restored. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
Polk was born in Arkansas, participated in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and moved to California to escape racial segregation and violence. Prior to her disappearance, she had been a longtime advocate for affordable housing. She had been active with the East Bay Housing Organization and had appeared at numerous functions to talk about the housing problem in the area.
Her body has not been located, but foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.