Last week, an Indiana mother turned to social media for help to locate her 20-year-old daughter, Lateche Norris. The concerned mother said she doesn't like asking for help, but she has been out of contact with her daughter and she's worried something bad happened to her.
The last time she talked to her daughter was on November 5, when Lateche was franticly trying to get in touch with her boyfriend, Joseph "Joey" Smith, after an argument. Using a stranger's phone at the local 7-Eleven, Norris asked her mother for the number she had for Joey.
Before hanging up, Walker told her daughter she loves her, and to call her back so she knows everything was okay. But that call never came.
Walker Filed A Missing Persons Report
According to People, four days later, on November 9, Walker filed a missing persons report and asked law enforcement to help her locate her daughter. The police didn't immediately list her as a "at-risk person," opening an investigation, but not putting it a priority.
Walker expressed her frustration with the police department and their lack of interest in helping her. She believed her daughter was in danger and just as "important as Gabby Petito."
She couldn't just sit around and not look for her daughter. She opened a GoFundMe campaign, asking for funds so she could fly to California to search for her daughter. On the GoFundMe page, she said her daughter flew to California to be with her boyfriend Joey around November 1. Walker said it wasn't like her daughter to not contact her as they have a very close relationship.
When Lateche was still missing after three weeks, the police upgraded her missing person's status as an "at -risk person." They couldn't reach her boyfriend by phone either.
Fially, on December 3, Cheryl heard from her daughter, and she was safe.
Lateche Chose To Be Homeless
Norris' stepfather, Amir Walker, revealed his stepdaughter never knew she was missing. Fox reported on Friday, December 3, Norris got in touch with her mother. She told her they were homeless, living in a makeshift shelter under a highway.
Walker thinks it is unlikely Norris will leave California to return to Indiana. She doesn't want to be separated from Joey.
“Teche is choosing to stay homeless. Joey, he built them like a huge type of fort right there off of the highway,” Walker said.
Domestic Violence Is A Concern
Walker said the couple has a history of domestic violence. He pointed out that was one reason his wife, Cheryl, launched the search for Lateche. She didn't want her to end up like Gabby Petito.
“Joey gets mad at Teche, he breaks her phone. Teche gets mad at Joey. Teche breaks Joey’s phone. It’s toxic. That’s not a smart thing to do,” Walker said. "Joey is not going to move in with us. Teche does not want to come back home. She’d rather be homeless with Joey and go from the bottom up. That’s scary and admirable at the same time.”
San Diego Police Department released a statement about Norris' closed case. "Missing person Lateche Norris has been located. San Diego Police Department investigators met with Norris in-person today and confirmed she was safe. Detectives also verified Norris was not and is not the victim of any crime. Ms. Norris thanked the public for their concern and asked for privacy. The San Diego Police Department thanks its public safety and community partners for their effort in locating Ms. Norris."
But What About The GoFundMe Money?
After Norris was found safe, social media called for the mother to refund and close the GoFundMe account. Some have accused the family of making up the missing story to get money from strangers.
"I'm leaving this campaign open for the time being, because I've had people asking what Lateche needs instead of attacking our family the moment I notified people she was found safe. I've been transparent and will continue to be, I'm NO longer asking for donations of any kind! I'm not closing this campaign because the peanut gallery demands it... its here for those who want to give to her of free will to help her with anything she needs," Walker wrote on GoFundMe.
It sounds like a happy ending for this family. Lateche Norris is no longer considered missing. Hopefully, she'll change her mind about going back home with her parents. Tell me what you think about this story in the comments section below. Don't forget to follow me to read more of my articles.