- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

Tamika Huston’s smile is as captivating as Laci Peterson’s. Tamika Huston’s disappearance is as deserving of attention from the mainstream media as Chandra Levy’s and the aptly “runaway bride.”

Have you heard of the Tamika Huston case? It is highly unlikely since the Big Three networks are ignoring the kidnapping. Indeed, if it weren’t for a local cable program on which I am a panelist, I never would have heard of Tamika Huston either.

Like the three other missing women, Tamika Huston is a twenty-something whose disappearance from her home in Spartanburg, S.C., is baffling — mostly because a 911 caller told police of her killing before Miss Huston had been reported missing. She has not been seen or heard from since late May of 2004. Her purse, ID and other such belongings were found in her home. Her car was found abandoned near the home of a former boyfriend. Inside the car, police found keys, but none belonging to Miss Huston. The key to the mysterious keys was actually determined by “America’s Most Wanted,” which aired its initial segment on the Huston case in March.

Spartanburg authorities have interviewed relatives, friends and ex-boyfriends, and numerous others. The FBI has deemed the disappearance of Miss Huston a kidnapping. Why? One of the keys found in Miss Huston’s car opened a door in another complex. An ex-boyfriend used to live there, and in that apartment police found blood evidence. DNA tests have determined that blood is in fact that of Tamika Huston.

Tom Morris Jr., senior correspondent and producer of “America’s Most Wanted,” who I recently interviewed on television, deserves considerable credit for pushing the where-is-Tamika-Huston case upon a national audience. A subsequent segment on what he rightly calls a “bizarre” kidnapping will air later this month.

“Bizarre” is apropos for two primary reasons. For one, police received a 911 caller who claimed that her brother had drowned Miss Huston. Police followed up on the tip, but found no such lady in the lake.

Where is Tamika Huston? That is the precise question that still haunts, with no sign of any reasonable answers coming anytime soon.

Miss Huston, 25, is a native of Washington with lots of friends and relatives tied to this area (her mother still lives here and Miss Huston is a cousin of former Washington Redskin Desmond Howard). Miss Huston is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, and had worked at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. She also got her wish and exhibited her lovely voice during auditions on “American Idol.”

Friends and family, who maintain a Web site (tamikahuston.com) also question the lack of attention the case is getting from the mainstream media, pointing out that while “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” the syndicated drive-time radio program, and blackamericaweb.com have reported on the Huston kidnapping, national outlets are suspiciously quiet, preferring to give us daily updates on the bride who didn’t want to walk down the aisle.

Remember the barrage of daily news stories on Chandra Levy, the intern who disappeared quicker than you could say Gary Condit? Remember Miss Levy’s distraught mother pleading for her daughter’s return? Remember the interviews and stories by Larry King, Katie Couric and Matt What’s His Name? I even remember my police chief, Chuck Ramsey, and federal authorities using the term person of interest, and I remember a laidback congressman from California saying he had nothing to do with Miss Levy’s disappearance.

I also remember the early days of the Laci Peterson case, and thinking how could a “devoted and loving” husband dump his wife on Christmas Eve and roll her body — her very pregnant body — into the Bay. The Peterson case most certainly drew considerable media attention from the very fact that both the Levy and the Peterson cases were out of Modesta, Calif., and involved sex, lies but no videotape. But when we learned that Miss Levy’s remains had been found and that corpses of Mrs. Peterson and her unborn son had washed ashore, we knew that closure was eventual.

There are no such signs in the Huston case — at least not yet.

While law enforcers continue to follow leads and question persons of interest in the Huston case, the media continues to ignore a kidnapping that seemingly should lead to either questionable investigative strategy or a dead body.

I’m praying that Tamika Huston, who has a tattoo of a tiger on her right thigh, is as alive and well as her housemate — a Pit Bull who was pregnant when Tamika disappeared. The dog was severely malnourished when they found her, and only one puppy survived. Indeed, the media asking where is Tamika Huston (NPR carried a report last month) is as critical to such missing-person cases as the law enforcers grilling persons of interest.

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