15-Year-Old Tonetta Carlisle Was Forced Into a Van in 1989 and Vanished in Tennessee

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished

Tonetta CarlisleThe Charley Project

It was March 16, 1989.

15-year-old Tonetta Carlisle was walking her usual route home from her school, City High School, where she was a freshman.

According to the Doe Network, it was 3:00 pm and Tonetta was walking up Ruth Avenue, about half a block from her home.

A woman, out in the yard, glanced up the hill and saw several people jump out of a yellow and tan van, grab Tonetta, force her into the vehicle and speed off.

The woman alerted her husband, and they chased the van up the street.

Although they lost the vehicle, they were able to get the license plate, a Tennessee tag LKH-920.

The couple immediately called the police, reported the abduction, and provided the license plate.

Meanwhile, Tonetta’s mother, Noni Sturdivant, was expecting her daughter home from school.

When her arrival never came and they were unable to locate Tonetta, her mother called the police to report her missing.

Noni made the call eight hours after the couple called in the abduction, the Charley Project reported.

An immediate connection to the earlier reported abduction and Tonetta’s missing person’s case was not made by authorities.

It was two days before authorities made the connection.

When they finally did connect the two, they ran the license plate and discovered the vehicle belonged to a convicted rapist, Jeffrey Jones.

Jones was released the previous year after serving eight years for rape and aggravated assault.

Two months before Tonetta vanished, Jones raped a woman in his apartment complex.

On March 18, 1989, two days after Tonetta vanished, Jeffrey Jones was found dead inside his van.

Authorities determined he committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tonetta has never been seen again.

"She could have gotten married had children I missed out on all of it," Nonie Sturdivant told News Channel 9.

Her brother Darrell, who has never stopped searching for his sister said, “You see stuff like this in movies and you hear about it, you don't think it will hit home. We want to encourage everyone through our little sister, with school starting, to be careful. The parents, network with each other try not to have your child walking by herself,” he stated to News Channel 9.

Tonetta Carlisle Mother and Brother Noni Sturdivant and Darrell CarlisleNews Channel 9

Some reports state there are rumors Tonetta was forced into prostitution and taken to California.

There is no evidence to indicate that information is true.

The couple who witnessed her abduction said several people forced Tonetta into the van.

Those other people have never been identified.

In 2019, News Channel 9 reported authorities had taken new DNA samples from Tonetta's mother and brother to compare in a database.

The outlet reported the District Attorney was also reopening her case.

Tonetta Carlisle was 5'11" and weighed 95 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She was last seen wearing a pink and white striped blouse, a denim skirt, and white sneakers.

Please contact the Chattanooga Police Department at 615-698-9752 with any information.

Tonetta Carlisle Age ProgressionNews Channel 9

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