The disappearance of Phoenix Coldon is a case marked with far more questions than answers. The 23-year-old was last seen in the driveway of her house in Spanish Lake Missouri. On that day, December 18, 2011, Phoenix was talking on the phone while sitting in her black 1998 Chevy Blazer. Soon after, Phoenix decided that she needed to go get something from the store. She put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway. As she drove down her street, her family had no idea that it was going to be the last time that they ever saw her.
Phoenix’s last name was originally Reeves. She was born on May 23, 1988, in California, but her family had to relocate to Missouri due to her father’s job. Her parents would split up at some point and her mother, Goldia, got married to a man named Lawrence Coldon. He eventually adopted Phoenix and she took his last name. As Phoenix grew up, she seemed to excel at every extracurricular she attempted. Despite being homeschooled, she managed to become the junior fencing champion of St. Louis County. She even explored her musical talent and became adept at playing many different types of instruments. At just 18 years old, Phoenix convinced her parents to co-sign a lease for an apartment she and her friend wanted to move into. Unbeknownst to her parents though, that friend was actually her boyfriend.
Shandrea Thomas, an investigative reporter looking into Phoenix’s case, would learn that Phoenix had even more secrets than just that. She learned that Phoenix kept a second phone hidden from her live-in boyfriend. She would use that phone to speak with other guys without him knowing. To those who knew her, that behavior seemed uncharacteristic. That would be consistent with what her family felt on the day that she disappeared. On December 18, 2011, Phoenix went to visit her parents in Spanish Lake Missouri. At around 3:00 pm, she took her mother’s keys and went into her car. What was strange to her family is that Phoenix took her mother's car and drove off without ever once saying she was headed out or where she was going. For them, this was something that never happened. “Phoenix never left the house without saying something,” her mother said. “Without saying, ‘I’m going down the street. I’m going to the store.’ Phoenix has never left the house like that.”
Once Goldia realized that Phoenix had failed to return home even after a long enough time, her mother started to feel that something was wrong. The family was able to get volunteers from the neighborhood to help them knock and doors and search nearby areas. Goldia herself went from door to door searching for her missing daughter. They were all unable to find any trace of the missing young woman. That is when the family decided to get the police involved. When the authorities took over the investigation, they organized several search parties and set them out in search of the 23-year-old. The police were also at a loss. There was no sign of Phoenix, and as each hour passed, her family began fearing the worst. But, just a short distance away, there would be a development that no one knew about.
Later that day, Goldia’s car was found abandoned on the corner of 9th Street and St. Clair Avenue in East St. Louis Illinois, at 5:27 pm. Geographically, her car was technically left in another state. However, the drive between the 2 distances was less than 30 minutes. Local police impounded the car at 6:23 pm and its registered owner, Goldia Coldon, was never notified. Phoenix’s mother feels that this was a crucial misstep on the part of the police. “I just wish those police had done what they were supposed to do by running those plates and seeing that the vehicle was registered to me,” Phoenix's mother expressed. She added that police didn’t even search the area after finding the car. “All they had to do is call and say, ‘do you know where your vehicle is?'”
In fact, Goldia had to find out from a family friend that her car was even impounded. He had seen her car at the impound lot on January 1, 2012, and told members of the family. That is when they all went to retrieve it and were told something even more troubling on the part of the police. The East St. Louis Police officer handing it over claimed that they never created an inventory sheet for the vehicle because no personal items were found inside it. That is something that Goldia vehemently denies. She says that when they checked the vehicle they found Phoenix’s glasses, purse, driver’s license, and shoes. If this is true, why would the police lie about this?
The police were already showing indifference to her fate after the car she was driving had been found abandoned and in a different state. Now, with the fact that she was missing being established, the family could not get the media to take an interest in her story. Her family believed that her race played a factor in the lack of attention, something that has basically become a statistical fact at this point. Despite making up only 13 percent of the female population in the U.S., studies have shown that Black women account for 35 percent of the country’s missing women. Nearly 100,000 of the 250,000 women who went missing during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 were women of color. According to data cited by Brittany Lewis, co-founder of Research in Action, over 60,000 Black women are missing nationwide — and are twice as likely to be homicide victims than they appear to be. Experts claim that cases involving missing Black women and girls remain open for four times as long as cases involving white individuals.
Despite that, the state report from Minnesota’s Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls Task Force, established in 2021, indicates that Black women are less likely to receive media coverage when they go missing. So Phoenix's family needed to turn to other methods. To get help, Phoenix’s family contacted the Black & Missing Foundation to spur attention. They also hired private investigator Steve Foster to dig deeper. Something that may be of potential significance that Foster learned is that Phoenix has 2 birth certificates. There is one for each last name she has had. That means that Phoenix could potentially have 2 different identities.
Phoenix’s father, Lawrence, looked through different abandoned buildings in the East St. Louis area hoping to find her. While he was doing that, Goldia was talking to anyone that she thought may have seen or heard something. She spoke to local prostitutes and drug dealers hoping for even the tiniest lead. Sadly, both of their efforts came up empty. Then, there would be an unexpected break in the case. Phoenix had recorded a video before she disappeared where she apparently made it known that she was unhappy with her life. In the video, she spoke of wanting “to start over” but that she can’t. She also recited the Serenity prayer and asked God to help her “accept the things that won’t change,” before saying. “I cant remember a time when I was happy.”
The belief that began to form after that video surfaced was that Phoenix Coldon had run away from home. Her parents were put under the spotlight for possibly being too strict to the point where their child felt that she had to get away. Phoenix also hadn’t enrolled in any classes for her Spring semester, causing some to believe that she already knew she was no longer going to be in the area. Then, there was a potential sighting of the missing woman. In 2014, Phoenix's friend Kelly Fronhert said that she recalled seeing her boarding a flight. She even called the woman Phoenix and saw her react. The person she believed to be Phoenix was with several young women and two men who looked like they could be pro football players, in Kelly’s words. However, that lead turned out to be a dead end, as the police weren’t able to trace the flight to its destination.
Not too long after that, A man also came forward and said that he knew where Phoenix was. Phoenix’s family would spend every last penny they had on private investigators to follow the tip given to them by the man from Texas. They even lost their home because of the financial toll that it took. Sadly, and disgustingly, the man would later admit that he made the whole thing up. Ultimately, investigators believe the three most likely conclusions to his mystery are that Phoenix Coldon was either abducted by sex traffickers, ran away on purpose, or died in some unknown act of foul play. Perhaps one of the most chilling claims came from someone unexpected. An ex-girlfriend of one of Phoenix’s secret boyfriends once asked him if he knew where she was. According to her, He replied, “Why are you worrying about someone who’s dead?”
While investigators found a Phoenix Reeves living in Anchorage, Alaska, it wasn’t the Phoenix they were looking for. As for her secret boyfriend, he was also cleared of any wrongdoing. To this day, we still have no idea what happened to Phoenix Coldon.