I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
LaQuanta Riley is an African-American female with black hair and brown eyes. She is 5'8" and 200 pounds. She has her ears pierced as well as a silver barbell tongue piercing. She was 19 when she went missing on December 7, 2003. She has a tattoo on her bicep of ‘RIP Mesha’ and ‘LaQuanta’ tattooed on her other bicep.
She was last seen wearing stonewashed blue jeans, a yellow and green Ecko shirt, yellow and green Reebok sneakers, and a silver chain bracelet.
LaQuanta was born on February 26, 1984, to 16-year-old Pam Riley. Because Pam was so young, LaQuanta was raised by her aunt Katie Smith. LaQuanta and her mother had a good relationship; Pam kept in contact with letters and was always given school pictures. LaQuanta had five younger siblings, the youngest being her only sister who passed away in 1996. While living with her aunt Katie, she began a close sister-like bond with her cousin Stacie Riley.
LaQuanta loved cooking and music growing up and even played the clarinet in middle and high school. She was an ambitious and hardworking student and graduated in 2002 with honors from Redan High school in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She had received a full scholarship to college and was planning to go into forensic science and criminal justice. All her life she was known to be a bright, bubbly, and compassionate young woman.
In 2003, LaQuanta ended up moving into an apartment with a high school friend in Eufaula, Alabama. There was an unknown disagreement around Thanksgiving, and LaQuanta decided to move out of the apartment.
On December 5, LaQuanta returned to the apartment to gather her belongings. She called her mother to ask for a ride, but her mother was unable to come pick her up and take her to Aunt Katie’s house. Her mother, Pam, could tell she was upset but, not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask what was wrong and decided to give her daughter space. LaQuanta was able to make other arrangements and found a way to get to her Aunt Katie’s house. Her aunt lived in the 1500 block of Hill Street in Montgomery, Alabama.
While living at her aunt's house, there was one major rule the girls had to follow, and that was no male visitors allowed. LaQuanta didn’t like this rule and complained to her mother about it but was told to follow the rule anyway. Her aunt Katie wasn’t home at the time and was in Georgia visiting family.
On December 7, 2003, the family was excited about Christmas, and the family tradition was that everybody chose special Christmas outfits for the get-together. LaQuanta and Katie’s son had a disagreement over the house rule of no male visitors, but Katie told LaQuanta not to worry about the disagreement.
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Later that night around 11:30 p.m., LaQuanta got into a dark green four-door car at her residence. The driver took her to her mom’s house to grab a jacket, and when her younger brother answered the door, he questioned her about who was in the car. He couldn’t see the driver of the car, but LaQuanta assured her brother it was a friend she met around the neighborhood. He had never seen that car before. The car was described as possibly a Ford Taurus or a Chevrolet Caprice. LaQuanta got back in the car and they drove off. That was the last time anybody saw her.
Three days later, LaQuanta's mother reported her as missing. She had left behind her purse and money.
Phone Call and Apartment Rental
Sources are unclear on the time when Pam received a call, but somewhere between a few days and a few weeks after LaQuanta’s disappearance, there was a message left on her answering machine. The caller sounded like LaQuanta, and she said either “Let me go home” or “Leave me alone.” There was a male voice in the background that said her name, LaQuanta, and the call was disconnected. Police made a copy of this recording but were unable to trace the call. The recording has never been made public.
Police also found LaQuanta’s name being used to rent an apartment in Stone Mountain, Georgia—the same area where she had graduated from high school. Pam visited the apartment and asked a resident who had been there for 2 years about her daughter. She showed the man a picture of LaQuanta, and he claimed she lived down the hall from him for a short time and had asked to use his phone after an argument. He also claimed she moved out just days before Pam arrived. It’s unclear if the police looked any further into the person who rented the apartment.
LaQuanta’s mother believes the police didn’t do enough for her daughter and claims they never checked phone records or searched Katie's home. She says she still believes her daughter is alive and wants her to know that she can always come home regardless of what arguments she had before her disappearance. Pam regrets not asking what had happened that day LaQuanta called her upset, thinking it might give some insight into what was going on in her daughter's life.
Her mother was understandably depressed and had gone through a period when she wouldn’t answer the phone unless it was someone with information on her daughter.
Pam’s hope was rekindled after she was introduced to Project Jason, a nonprofit organization for families of missing persons. It helped give her support and inspiration. Pam later founded the Riley Relief Foundation for people in Alabama who have missing loved ones to give them support, connections, and resources.
The community holds vigils every year on the anniversary of LaQuanta’s disappearance and releases balloons on her birthday to show she’s not forgotten. Unfortunately, there are very few leads. The police say that her case is still open and they have assigned a new detective to it to help get fresh eyes on the case.
If you have any information on the car, driver, or location of LaQuanta, you can call the Montgomery Police Department at 334-625-2831. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 334-215-STOP (7867).
If you wish to remain anonymous, you can also call in tips to Secret Witness at 334-262-4000. No detail is too small; if you see or hear something, please call.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.