For nearly a month, 14-year-old Jashyah Moore, of New Jersey has been missing and her family and community have been searching for her.
Some of those searching for her are rightfully upset that when Black girls like Jashyah disappear, they don’t get the same national media attention that is granted to missing white women like Gabby Petito, the New York woman whose name and photo made national headlines just days after she was reported missing. While Petito was sadly found dead, Jashyah’s family is still holding on to hope that she will be returned home safely.
According to NBC 4 New York, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the investigation into Jashya’s disappearance, and on Tuesday, authorities confirmed they are continuing the search for her and following up on multiple leads.
“Jashyah is a smart girl, she would not stay out, she would not go out or go off with anyone,” Jashyah’s mother, Jamie Moore, said during a press conference on Friday. “If anybody knows anything, please come forward. My baby is going to high school, she is a good girl. Please.”
“I feel like somebody has her against her will,” Moore continued. “That’s why she hasn’t called me. You don’t gotta tell us who you are, just don’t hurt my baby. Drop her off, drop her off at the police station.”
Moore said that on October 14, she sent her daughter to Poppie’s Deli on Central Avenue. Jashyah returned home fine but realized she didn’t have her credit card with her, so she left again to retrace her steps in order to find it. That was the last time her mother saw her, according to CBS News.
At one point, the search led to an apartment building where a woman claimed she might have seen Jashyah two weeks ago, but Moore told NBC she doesn’t believe that lead will pan out.
Last week, police said surveillance video from the day of her disappearance showed the teen entering the deli with an “older male” who paid for her items at the register, but according to East Orange Police Chief Phyllis Bindi, the video does not show them leaving together.
“The male on the video seen with Jashyah that day has been fully cooperative, giving full cooperation in this investigation,” Bindi said.
In addition to the older male, police also interviewed the teen’s stepfather, a former East Orange police officer who is involved in a domestic violence case against Jashyah.
According to NBC News, the girl’s aunt said that Yolanda Moore said that the stepdad had allegedly struck Jashyah and the teen’s mom allegedly received a letter in the mail that Jashyah was to testify before a grand jury. NBC News has not been able to verify this information.
Despite that, police said they do not think there’s a connection to the teen’s disappearance.
“The domestic violence case is proceeding against the defendant,” a spokesperson for the office said, reports NBC. “We are aware of the fact that the mother reported the daughter missing. The missing person’s case is being handled by municipal authorities in East Orange. At this point, the domestic violence assault and the status of the missing person do not appear to be related; however, it is being monitored by law enforcement.”
There’s currently a $15,000 reward being offered to anyone who provided information that leads to Jashyah being returned home. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has also sent word out through the media that authorities are looking for any information including descriptions by anyone who has seen her as to what he was wearing and other details that would help in the search.
In fact, it doesn’t appear to be lost on the prosecutor’s office that if Jashyah was a white woman named Gabby, the search may have yielded better results by now.
“We know that Gabby Petito, which was a very notorious case that was constantly in the news, did yield results and information,” said Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II.
Members of the community who have joined Moore in her relentless search for her daughter also noticed a double standard in media attention.
“We want that exposure for our babies that are going missing in our communities as well,” volunteer Yolanda Johnson told NBC. “We don’t get that.”
According to CBS, Jashyah “is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs around 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing khakis, black boots and a black jacket. Anyone with information about her is asked to call police at 877-847-7432 or 973-266-504.”
We hope with all our hearts that Jashyah is found safe and is returned home. As her aunt, Yolanda Aguilera, told NBC, “We have to protect the black community, we have to protect black girls—especially the most vulnerable among us.”