CHATHAM — If Karen Phillips could choose a word to best describe her daughter, Kierra Coles, she said it’d be “ambitious.”
Coles loved doing makeup for herself and others, dancing and taking videos of her friends. She wanted to be on television, radio, or some medium where “everybody could just hear her voice,” Phillips said.
She also wanted to work at the post office. After seasonal positions for three years, she made it happen, Phillips said.
Coles, a 26-year-old postal worker and a mother-to-be, went missing Oct. 2, 2018. As part of an ongoing effort to spotlight unsolved murders and missing people, Chicago Police shared a video Tuesday featuring Phillips and sharing more about the case to encourage people with any information about Coles’ disappearance to share tips.
“If you know something, please say something,” Phillips said in the video. “I’m begging you as a mother that [has] to wake up to a reoccurring nightmare every day wondering where my child is.”
Detectives established a timeline of Coles’ disappearance after analyzing “hours of footage,” Sgt. William Svilar said.
On Oct. 2, 2018, Coles entered her home in the 8100 block of South Vernon Avenue. A man who detectives have identified as a person of interest also entered the residence, Svilar said. The man later got in Coles’ car with her in the driver’s seat and drove off, Svilar said.
Minutes later, Coles was seen on surveillance video making two ATM withdrawals at a Walgreens at 8628 S. Cottage Grove. Coles, who was three months pregnant, exited minutes later, Svilar said.
After less than an hour, Coles’ vehicle arrived in another area of the city. The man exited the passenger side, but no one got out of the driver’s side, Svilar said. The following day, the man parked Coles’ car near her home, entered her building and left with unknown items before driving away in his car, Svilar said.
Svilar said officers questioned the man after Coles was reported missing by her family, but the man gave differing statements of the last time he’d seen her.
Detectives “cast a wide net for evidence” in search of Coles, Svilar said, interviewing friends and family, reviewing social media accounts, and scraping her computer, phone and financial records.
When Phillips last spoke with her daughter, Coles was at the WIC Grocery store, questioning what foods she should eat and buy in preparation for her new baby.
“She was so excited to be pregnant,” Phillips said. “I can never forget that day because that was the last day I talked to her. I heard her voice and how happy she was to be pregnant.”
Coles’ family filed a missing person’s report on Oct. 4, two days after her disappearance. Officers searched her apartment the following day but did not find any sign of her, Svilar said.
When her daughter wasn’t home, Phillips said she was initially relieved. Maybe her daughter “didn’t want to be bothered” for a few days, she said. She’d be home in the morning. But the days ticked on.
“Here I am almost three years later, and I still don’t have my baby,” Phillips said.
Coles is among dozens of missing Black women and the families, activists, artists and politicians who have organized for justice.
In September, Sheriff Tom Dart announced that the Missing Persons Initiative would prioritize cases three years and older. Later that month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a $25 million initiative to support programs that prevent sex trafficking and intimate-partner violence. But many community organizers questioned why the boost in funding didn’t address the decades-long problem of finding the dozens of missing Black women in the city.
The mayor’s office did not answer how the funding would help the families of the missing victims find answers in earlier reports.
Phillips said she just wants her daughter to be brought home safe. Coles’ disappearance “took a big mental toll,” Phillips said.
She wonders every day if Coles is safe, hungry, or cold. She also wonders if Coles had her baby and if they’re OK, she said.
“If it’s anybody out there with a heart and you can feel what I’m saying, and you know something, can you please call in and give anything that you may know?” Phillips said. “Even if you think it’s nothing, it could be something. You could be the one to help bring Kierra home.”
Anyone with information about Coles’ disappearance can contact police at CPDTIP.COM.
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