Indiana mom scours California beach towns for daughter
Lateche Norris loves the beach, and that’s what drew her to the West Coast this summer. She left her family in Indiana to meet a Californian boyfriend named Joey whom she had met a few months earlier.
A few days after her arrival, she disappeared. So his family is now here too.
Cheryl Walker, mother of Lateche Norris, hasn’t stopped since arriving from Indiana more than a week ago, scouring Southern California for her 20-year-old daughter and leaving behind new flyers in many seaside communities.
“I’m just going to keep going until she’s found,” Walker said. “I’m not going to stop. I will get stronger, I will continue.
The mother and daughter last spoke more than three weeks ago when Norris called from a stranger’s phone.
“She didn’t sound frantic, but it was just, you know, but you could hear like when you’re a little scared, but you don’t want the person you’re talking to know about it,” said Walker. “But you can hear it in their diaphragm.”
Her daughter had talked about a big argument with her boyfriend the night before and promised to call back later, and Walker now regrets not keeping her on the phone longer.
“She said, ‘I will, mum, I promise.’ I said, ‘I love you’ and she said, ‘I love you more,’ Walker recalled, ‘And that was it. No one has heard from her since.’
Days later, Walker reported her daughter missing to San Diego police, insisting her daughter might be in danger. The department did not respond to a request for an interview on the case and told the family that Norris was not considered “at risk.”
Needless to say, this offered Walker little solace.
“It’s my child and nonprofits and outsiders do more than people who get paid to do this and that, it’s hard.”
One such organization is A Voice for the Voiceless, whose founder, Whitney Sich, also questions the lack of urgency on the part of the police.
” She is in danger. It’s a female. She is blocked. She had minimal resources,” Sich said. “She went there to be with someone who doesn’t have the best track record; is not the most reliable person. We are worried because he has become completely silent.
Walker continues to reach out to this boyfriend, although he has so far received no response.
That, says Jennifer Coffinaffer, a former FBI agent, is the sticking point in this case. Speaking to NewsNation, Coffindaffer pointed to the boyfriend’s alleged history of fentanyl and heroin addiction, the couple’s near-homelessness and Norris’ lack of communication: she has neither telephone service, or computer.
In this regard, Norris is in danger, Coffindaffer told “NewsNation Prime”.
“We know they were both arrested very recently for domestic violence,” Coffindaffer said. “And that there’s a no-see-it order that’s been issued.” They have a court date in December, I believe, December 21, regarding this domestic violence situation. So I would really consider her to be in danger from the perspective of this context of this domestic violence situation that she is in.
This does not mean, Coffindaffer stressed, that all is lost.
“They beat cops who are going to be there. There’s an open case, I saw. They are definitely looking. If we’ve learned anything from these cases, it’s that the FBI and law enforcement aren’t clear about what they’re doing in their investigation. They love media involvement because the media brings the face of the person and the circumstances to the fore so we can all be on the lookout. But they don’t like to get involved in the details of what they do.
For now, returning to Indiana is out of the question for Walker.
“I can’t leave now because if I leave now it will calm down, and I can’t. So I have to stay until something happens. I hope we can find her. If not, I have to keep going until it gets big enough for someone else to do it, because I’m not going to stop until then.
Coffinaffer offers a few words of encouragement.
“I would tell Cheryl, Norris’ mother, that there is an ongoing investigation, if they can just be more patient. But this one is going to be tricky.
Walker hopes someone can provide her with information that will reunite her with the girl she calls her “mini-me.” Anyone who may have seen Norris is encouraged to call Walker at 765-422-1600. Walker intends to personally investigate every tip she receives.