In a couple of days, just prior to Santa Claus delivering Christmas cheer as only he can, Richard Harris will turn 9 years old, and one of the things his maternal grandmother, Valencia Harris, says she prays he has for his birthday and during this holiest of seasons is his mother’s arms wrapped around him and younger brother U’Andre, 6.
The boys haven’t felt their mother’s hugs for more than 22 months.
She hasn’t called home to inquire about them or sent mysterious birthday cards.
Richard and U’Andre’s mother, Unique Harris, has seemingly vanished without a trace.
Reported missing from her home in the 2400 block of Hartford Street in Southeast Washington on Oct. 9, 2010, the young mother of two, who has worn eyeglasses since the third grade, is a D.C. cold case.
Her cellphone and house keys disappeared along with her. Her eyeglasses, on the other hand, stayed in the apartment.
There were 85,820 active missing-person files in 2010, according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
The Harris case is an official cold case for the Metropolitan Police Department.
Ms. Harris doesn’t try to hide her mixed emotions, and admitted she is as hopeful as she is bitter.
There have been four Metropolitan Police detectives on the case since then without a peep of Unique Harris’ possible whereabouts, a solid lead, potential suspects or persons of interest.
And the boys’ running commentary — “Grandma, I miss my mommy!” — has left the petite D.C. native wrenched with determination.
“I try to not let more than a week or two go by without contacting police,” Ms. Harris said over breakfast at a restaurant not far from her daughter’s former home. Unique had only lived there a little more than a month.
“I was concerned about her safety even though the [7th District] police station was a couple blocks away,” she said. “Her keys were gone, and her cell was gone, but what’s the sticking point to me is her eyeglasses and the cell.”
Unique can’t see without her glasses, said her mother, adding that she had worn glasses since childhood and that the phone holds a possible lead.