Mother perseveres 10 years after daughter's disappearance

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Shirlett Smith can't touch her daughter's face or stroke her hair.

So she folds flyers bearing her 17-year-old daughter's image and stuffs them into envelopes at the Utica branch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  Thursday marked a sad anniversary for Smith -- 10 years since she last saw her daughter, Ivory Green. It was a parting exchange like hundreds of others at their apartment in Utica's Washington Courts.  But the familiar call that usually followed ... never came.

" 'I'm on such-and-such street. I'm on my way walking,' and that's what she did in 2004 and I waited for her. Waited and waited. She never came. I never heard from her no more," says Smith.

In the 10 years since her daughter's disappearance, the staff at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have become like family to  Smith.

"You know, I draw strength from these ladies."

Smith frequently volunteers at the center. On Thursday, she did it in the shadow of 10 white flowers. White -- for hope -- one for each year her daughter has been missing.

Smith knows in her heart what police know on a more practical level.

"Based on things that we've discovered throughout the case, we don't believe she's alive," says Lt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department.

"People don't just disappear. ... someone knows what happened. Someone has a bit of information and whether they come forward to help themselves in some other type of proceeding or to step up and to the right thing, to have a change of heart ..." says Hauck.

"I would ask them to give information. Please tell the truth what happened to Ivory, not rumors, because I really want to know what happened to her, you know, so she could be at peace. I could be at peace. I just want to know what happened to my daughter," says Smith.

Her daughter's disappearance is still an open case.


What's On