She was a bright-eyed 1st grader walking to the Hi-Mount Public School four houses down the street from her home. It was May 3, 2002, and the child would be out of school for the summer soon. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t be enjoying the upcoming summer break. Fellow students reported seeing her in the playground before school, but she never made it to class and hasn’t been seen since. Sixteen years have passed, and sweet Alexis still hasn’t returned. Who snatched her? Where is she now?
Alexis Patterson, 7 was walked to school by her stepdad and was seen by other kids in the playground. Everyone assumed she would be in class. She had a perfect attendance record, but it would be broken on this fateful day in May. When she didn’t return home from school, her family reported her missing. Within 24-hours of the call, the Milwaukee P.D. set up a mobile command unit in a nearby park. It would stay there for the next five weeks, while the entire community searched for the girl.
A month later Elizabeth Smart was found alive, and I’m sure the news gave Ayanna Patterson hope that her daughter would be found as well. While the news found many other missing girls, her daughter’s name was never among them.
Three months later the authorities received a tip that she might be in the Milwaukee River near Estabrook Park. They had already checked the area but rechecked the place just in case. She wasn’t found. Many new leads poured into the case files, but not one of them lead to anything.
Fast forward a grueling 14 years and the authorities had been all over the country chasing leads in this case. One lead seemed promising in 2016. A man from Ohio called in claiming he thought his ex-wife was the missing child. She couldn’t remember anything before the age of ten, she had no photos of her childhood, she couldn’t remember how she ended up in Ohio, and she had several of the characteristics of Alexis Patterson. As usual, the police keep a few details private to help determine the truth in these cases. When this woman had a physical characteristic that wasn’t publicly known, the police made a trip to Ohio to get a DNA sample.
While everyone in the Wisconsin community waited and hoped, the DNA test came back negative. It was not Alexis Patterson. The mother put on a brave face for the cameras and said she will never give up, but it was apparent she was struggling with the new information. She had so desperately hoped that this woman was her child and now that hope was gone.
There haven’t been any new developments in this case in the last two years; at least none that the police are sharing publicly. If you have any information on this case, please contact the Milwaukee Police Department at (414) 278-4788.
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