Please help in finding Tamika Huston






9/4/2005


Human Remains Confirmed As Tamika Huston's


Remains found more than a week ago near Duncan have been identified as those of Tamika Huston. Forensic experts used dental records to confirm that the remains belonged to the missing Spartanburg woman.

Huston, 24, went missing in June 2004. Her car was found abandoned at an apartment complex a week later.

Almost two weeks ago, Christopher Lemont Hampton, 25, was charged with murder. Investigators said forensic evidence led them to Hampton as a suspect.

During questioning, Hampton led investigators to an area near a Duncan industrial park, where the remains were found.

The Spartanburg County coroner has not releasing a cause of death yet.



Closure Slow in Missing S.C. Woman's Case

By JEFFREY COLLINS
Associated Press Writer


On the day police announced they had arrested the man who killed Tamika Huston, Rebkah Howard was reminded of the effect her niece had on other people.

A woman from Atlanta left a note at the family's Web site, saying how much it had meant to her in middle school when Huston took time to embrace a girl others considered a nerd or tomboy. "I will always love her for that," the woman wrote.

"Things like that show you why Tamika was one of the best people you could ever meet," Howard said.

Huston vanished in May 2004, and Spartanburg police say the mystery has now been solved with the arrest of Christopher Hampton. After Hampton was charged with murder on Aug. 12, police said he led them to human remains.

In a jail interview last week, Hampton told the (Spartanburg) Herald-Journal he and Huston were arguing when he threw an iron, killing her. Hampton, 25, has refused to talk to The Associated Press.

Huston was a vibrant 24-year-old woman who loved her dog and tried out for "American Idol."

"She was a beautiful girl, so full of energy. She had a really, really bright spirit," Howard said.

Early leads in the search for the young woman never panned out, said Spartanburg Public Safety Director Tony Fisher.

Relatives called newspapers and television stations relentlessly to get them to cover the story. Howard, who serves as the family's spokeswoman, says she knew someone had information that could break open the case.

Finally, someone told police Huston had been dating Hampton. The family hadn't known of the relationship, but a key ring found in Huston's car held a key to an apartment where Hampton once lived, Fisher said.

Officers found traces of Huston's blood in the apartment, but they didn't have enough to charge Hampton until an examination of Hampton's belongings revealed more of her blood, Fisher said.

Officers served Hampton with a murder warrant on Aug. 12, the day he was supposed to be released from prison on an unrelated charge. Hours later, he led police to remains he said were Huston's, Fisher said.

Hampton told the Spartanburg newspaper Huston's death was an accident and he buried her out of panic, marking her grave with two tree branches in the form of a cross.

"I told her I was sorry. The whole time I was hoping she would wake up," he said.

Hampton said he hopes the family can forgive him, but Howard says that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

They're not sure when they can bury Huston, because the body won't be turned over until DNA tests legally prove the remains are Huston. The coroner's office said that could take weeks.

The family complained that the national media largely ignored the case in part, they say, because Huston was black instead of white like Laci Peterson in California or Natalee Holloway, who vanished in Aruba.

Many consider women more sympathetic potential victims than men and white women even more so, said Kristal Brent Zook, a professor at Columbia University's journalism school.

For the family, there is some solace in the memories and thoughts and prayers pouring in from friends and relatives, said Howard.

"She didn't think bad of anybody," Howard said. "I think that's what allowed this to happen."



Man Eyed in Missing S.C. Woman Case May Go Free

Person of Interest in Custody in Tamika Huston Case Set for Release as Family Raises Reward

By BRYAN ROBINSON


Aug. 9, 2005 - A person of interest in the disappearance of a South Carolina woman could be released from custody on unrelated charges by the end of this week, and the woman's family has raised a reward in hopes of generating more clues.

Tamika Huston, 24 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen June 2, 2004, at a friend's house in South Carolina. Because she lived alone, relatives did not realize she was missing until June 14.

A person of interest has been held in jail for an unrelated federal probation violation but authorities have not had enough evidence to charge him in Huston's disappearance. The man -- whose name has not been released -- is scheduled to be released Aug. 12 when he finishes serving his time for the violation. Huston's relatives have raised the reward for information on her whereabouts from $30,000 to $50,000 in hopes of buffering the case against the person of interest and formally bringing criminal charges against him.

"We met with the police and the solicitor who would prosecute the case and they brought us up to speed on where they stood," said Rebkah Howard, Huston's aunt. "They gave us a pretty lengthy presentation on what they done in the investigation from day one to that day [the day of the meeting]. We are just hoping that the reward will help in getting any information on her whereabouts in anticipation of the person of interest getting out of prison. But we have confidence the investigation is moving in the right direction."


Man Dated Huston


The man met and started dating Huston shortly before her disappearance, authorities said. Investigators had talked to the acquaintance throughout their investigation and began considering him a person of interest when they uncovered blood matching Huston's DNA at the man's former residence in January. Spartanburg Public Safety Department officials would not comment on whether they planned to formally charge the person of interest. They say they have received sporadic new leads throughout the investigation and are continuing to follow various clues.

"There's no new information that we're releasing at this time. It's still on ongoing investigation," said Lt. Steve Lamb. "We're working on it every day in different areas We're sending out dog teams to various areas."

It took some time for family members to realize Huston was missing because she was single, lived alone and had recently quit her job as a waitress. Police found Huston's cell phone, three uncashed checks and her driver's license when they searched her home. Her pregnant pet pit bull, Macy -- who friends and relatives say Huston treated like a child -- had given birth and eaten most of her puppies. Huston's car was found a week after she was reported missing, parked at an apartment complex.

Huston's relatives have said she was happy before she disappeared and would not have just run away. They said it wasn't unusual for her to spontaneously visit relatives and extended family in Florida and along the East Coast, but she would always tell someone where she was going.

Huston's family is confident that authorities are working hard to gather as much evidence as possible in their quest to find Tamika and build a case against the man -- if he is the person responsible for her fate.

"We know they want to gather as much information as they possibly can," said Howard. "I think they're weighing the rewards versus the risks of waiting until after the person of interest is released to charge him -- whether he will flee, whether he will make a mistake and trip himself up. Some may be concerned over whether he could harm someone else. This could be their one shot at trying him."


Family Hopes for the Best, Braces for the Worst


Relatives want Huston to be found alive. But the blood evidence recovered in January and the time that has passed since Huston's disappearance have braced family members for the worst news and they just want a resolution to the case.

"Just riding through the areas where police have searched and thinking that Tamika is someplace out there it's been emotionally draining," Howard said. "It's been extremely difficult. I think Tamika's mother at this point just wants to be able to lay her daughter to rest respectfully, if she can. You still have hope that one that Tamika will turn up and turn up alive, but we really don't see that at this point."

The Spartanburg Department of Public Safety asks that anyone who has information regarding Huston's disappearance contact investigators at (864) 596-2035 or CrimeStoppers at (864) 58-CRIME. More information about the search for Huston can be found at www.tamikahuston.com, a Web site set up by her friends and relatives.



Activist Continues Work for 'Forgotten' Missing Persons

For Alonzo Washington, the Legacy of 'Precious Doe' Case Lies in Never Giving Up on the Missing

By BRYAN ROBINSON


- Kansas City community activist-comic book writer Alonzo Washington has been on a bittersweet -- and moderately successful -- mission: to shine the spotlight on "forgotten" missing children and adults.

Washington was one of the first -- and most persistent -- activists to call on the media and law enforcement officials to continue pursuing the case of the decapitated girl once known as "Precious Doe," whose gruesome beheading baffled authorities for more than four years because no one claimed her remains. When police identified Doe as Erica Michelle Green and arrested her mother and stepfather, Michelle and Harrell Johnson, in her death, Washington was gratified that his persistence paid off.

But it was also a time to mourn and reflect.

"It was bittersweet, very bittersweet," Washington said. "I was working so hard to keep on police to keep investigating the case, on the media to keep covering Precious Doe/Erica Green, to the point where people were making fun of me, saying, 'Oh, he's seeking publicity. Oh, he's crazy.' It was gratifying to see the work pay off, but once you finally know who this girl was and what happened to her, it was very sad.

"I just want to continue to work on cases of missing children who were once thought to be Precious Doe because they still need attention," Washington continued. "The work doesn't stop here."


An Eye-Opening Mystery


The Precious Doe case opened Washington's eyes to what critics have called unbalanced coverage of missing children and adults in the news. Washington and others have said that young, white, attractive missing children and adults with families that have the eloquence, wealth and resources to keep their stories in the headlines get more widespread and consistent coverage than minorities.

Missing children and adults like Elizabeth Smart, Danielle van Dam, Laci Peterson and currently Natalee Holloway received more attention than the lesser-known cases such as Tamika Huston, a South Carolina woman who has missing for more than a year, or Diamond and Tionda Bradley, two Chicago girls who have been missing since July 2001 and Jahi Turner, a San Diego boy whose disappearance has been a mystery since 2002.

"How long you cover a story, how much you held it up and for how long depended on whether you met the aesthetic," Washington said. "If you didn't have that aesthetic, you didn't get the coverage."


'You Can't Give Up'


Last week, Harrell Johnson was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder in Erica Green's slaying, opening the door for prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Michelle Johnson faces second-degree murder charges in her daughter's death and is being held on $500,000 bail. Johnson's uncle has said that he repeatedly contacted and tried to convince law enforcement officials that he knew the identity of Precious Doe and who killed her. He was able to get hair samples from Michelle Johnson, contacted Washington and they both convinced police to test the hair for a DNA match to the slain child. A match led investigations to the break in their case.

According to court papers, Harrell Johnson admitted he was under the influence of alcohol and the hallucinogenic drug PCP when he became angry with Erica after she refused to go to bed. He allegedly admitted grabbing her, kicking her and throwing her to the ground, leaving her unconscious. After Erica died, he allegedly admitted, he used hedge clippers with help from his wife to sever the child's head and dispose of her body.

"So many people have asked me whether I am glad that the father could face the death penalty but I am not a proponent of capital punishment," Washington said. "If there are lessons to be learned from Precious Doe, it's that you can't give up. If there's a lesson for all families who are searching for loved ones, like the Holloways, you can't give up."


The Mission Continues


At one point, authorities suspected Precious Doe and Rilya Wilson, the 5-year-old Florida girl who was missing for more than a year before the state's Department of Children and Families [DCF] even noticed, were the same child, but palm prints failed to match the two girls. Rilya remains missing today, and Washington intends to bring attention to children and adults like her who disappear seemingly without a trace or a voice to fight for them.

Washington held a prayer vigil Friday for missing children who were once believed to be Precious Doe. He has used his independently produced comics and Omega Man, a socially conscious black superhero he created 13 years ago, to bring attention to missing children and adults whose cases may not generate national headlines.

"Things are changing slightly," Washington said. "People like LaToyia Figueroa [a pregnant Pennsylvania woman who has been missing since July] may not get the exact same coverage as Laci Peterson, but I feel good that she has gotten some coverage in some places. I thank God for bringing me the break in the Precious Doe case. I want to break other cases as well."



7/19/2005


Check out the following links on media coverage of missing persons:

Less-Known Missing Woman's Family Desperate for Closure
Which Missing People Are More Important? (2004)
Spotlight skips cases of missing minorities



8/16/2004


While surfing the internet today I came across this news item from Black America Web about a young lady named Tamika Huston. As of yesterday she's been missing for more than 70 days. During this time I had not heard about her disappearance yet the entire country has heard about the Lori Hacking case in Utah. The mainstream media has ignored Ms. Huston's case. Tamika Huston was reported missing from her Spartanburg, South Carolina home on June 14, 2004. She was last seen on June 2, 2004. On June 20, 2004 Ms. Huston's 1991 black Honda CRX was found abandoned at the Barksdale Apartments in Spartansburg.

Tamika's family members have created several websites including the following: Tamika's Family & Friends Page, Tamika Huston Missing and Tamika Friends & Family. You can also check out America's Most Wanted. If anyone has information relating to her disappearance please contact the Spartanburg Public Safety Department at (864) 596-2035.

Please also check out the article " Damsels In Distress," an article about missing persons and the discrepancies & biases involved when it comes to media coverage.