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A New York Mother Vanished In The Middle Of A Divorce And Custody Battle

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished

Petra Loretta Muhammad, raised by various relatives, lived in her homeland of Grenada until she was a teen. When she was fourteen, Petra moved to Trinidad, and at the age of 22, she met William Jackson. When she was 24 years old, she moved to the United States and married William. William converted to Islam and changed his last name to Muhammad, and as his wife, Petra carried the last name, Muhammad. Then 30-year-old Petra was a student at the State University of New York Orange (SUNY) in Newburgh, New York. She was pursuing a degree in diagnostic imaging with plans to become an x-ray technician. Petra worked part-time as a cashier and was about to sign the lease on her apartment. Petra had been married for four years to William Muhammad, who she was divorcing. The couple lived in a home owned by William's parents at 35 Schneider Avenue. William was also under investigation for allegations that he abused their young son. Petra had an order of protection against William. The Herald Times-Record reports in February 2005, that she told a judge that her husband hit her in the face. William threatened to kill her, pushed her, and locked her and their son out of their home. She said William disabled the phones to prevent her from calling for help, reports the Times Herald-Record. The protection order prohibited William from harassing Petra. According to Bronx News 12, William filed for custody of the couple's 3 1/2-year-old son in the middle of the divorce. Four months later, Petra Muhammad vanished.

On January 7, 2006, she paid her monthly cell phone bill and went shopping with a friend at a local mall in Highland Falls, New York. No one has seen or heard from Petra since that day. She was reported missing by a relative in February 2006.

Authorities questioned William. He told them Petra took her belongings, moved out, and he suggested she moved to New York City or Grenada, the Charley Project reports. Investigators discovered her passport, clothes, and driver's license were left inside the couple's home. They also found Petra's face was cut out of the family photos, and they found a doll with a noose around its neck, reports Bronx News 12.

"When Petra was reported missing, it struck us as one of those unusual cases. She just fell off the face of the Earth,” said Highland Falls Police Chief Ken Scott, reports Bronx News 12.

William was uncooperative in the investigation, reports the Charley Project. Her classmates told investigators Petra said William had "threatened her life," the Charley Project reports. They searched the home, car, camper, and pickup truck owned by the couple, but no evidence of foul play was located.

"We suspect he (William) has information that would be helpful in resolving this," Highland Falls police Chief Peter J. Miller said, reports the Herald Times-Record. "He's been less than cooperative."

Petra never arrived for her divorce proceedings on January 11 or January 25. As a result of her absence, a judge dismissed the case. William Muhammad moved to New Jersey with his son. Petra Muhammad has never been found.

Petra Loretta Muhammad is 5'7" and weighed 120-133 pounds when she vanished.

If you have any information, please contact the Highland Falls Police Department at 845-446-4911.

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The Vivid Faces of the Vanished tells the stories of missing and murdered minorities and real stories about everyday life situations. Readers are invited to submit tips on cases, suggest new and cold cases, and submit their real-life stories to share.

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