Details of Disappearance Yasmin was last seen at her family's Chicago, Illinois home on January 15, 2008. That day she went to the North Lawndale YMCA, where she was involved in sports and other activities. After she came home, she did a load of laundry and went to bed. She was gone by the next morning.
There were indications of a break-in at their residence; two locks on an outside fence and a lock on the basement door had been cut. Yasmin's bedroom was in the basement. Her room appeared untouched and nothing was taken, not even Yasmin's eyeglasses.
Her family has criticized the police investigation in her case, claiming investigators assumed she was a runaway and failed to look into other possible causes of her disappearance. Authorities admitted they made serious errors at the onset of the investigation by not immediately dusting for fingerprints and not taking the broken lock from the basement door.
Yasmin was a freshman at Austin Polytech Academy at the time of her disappearance, and was about to start a new job. She has no history of runaway behavior. However, Yasmin, who was born in Kentucky, had a troubled past. Her mother, who is now deceased, was a drug addict, and Yasmin and her older brother were removed from her home when they were toddlers.
Yasmin spent several years in the Kentucky foster care system, where she was sexually abused and developed severe emotional and behavioral problems. In 2001, Yasmin and her brother went to live with Rose Mae Starnes, their aunt by marriage, and she adopted them in 2006.
Starnes stated she loved Yasmin but had trouble dealing with her behavior problems, and occasionally disciplined her by whipping her with a belt or locking her in the basement. In 2007, when Yasmin's brother was sixteen years old, Starnes asked him to leave her home. Yasmin was the only child living at the residence at the time of her disappearance. She had been an excellent student in middle school, but when she started high school she got poor grades.
Jimmie Terrell Smith and his father lived in the second-floor apartment in Yasmin's building at the time of her disappearance. His father was friends with Starnes. Smith moved into the building in 2005, after he was paroled from prison where he had been serving a sentence for attempted murder. Following his release he was arrested six times and he admits he was always armed and sold drugs near Yasmin's apartment. He reportedly took an interest in Yasmin, and she mentioned him twice in her diary.
Starnes didn't tell the police that Smith was living in her building until 2009, when he was arrested for raping five females, including two 14-year-old girls he allegedly kidnapped. In a press interview from jail, Smith said he knew what happened to Yasmin and he was responsible for four murders he hadn't been charged with. This information hasn't been confirmed.
Starnes died of natural causes in 2014, at the age of 57. Yasmin's case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.
- Chicago Police Department
Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated February 2, 2021; picture added.