I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Tyarra Williams was 19 years old when she went missing on January 7, 2016, from Greensboro, North Carolina. She was 5’5" and weighed 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt, black North Face jacket, dark blue Levi jeans, white Jordans sneakers with blue and green trim, and a royal blue knit cap. She is female and of African American descent, with brown hair and eyes, and she has a nickel-sized burn scar on her right wrist. She has her ears pierced and her left nostril pierced with stud jewelry.
Tyarra Cacique Williams was born on June 18, 1996, in Greensboro, North Carolina. When Tyarra was just five, she went on a field trip to the Botanical Gardens where she brought back a sapling in a cup for her great grandparents. They planted the sapling in the yard, and as Tyarra grew and blossomed, so did the tree. Tyarra was a bright and kind person who was full of light. Her parents divorced when Tyarra was still young, and she and her little brother chose to live with their mother, Danielle.
Tyarra went to Dudley High school and had a thriving social life both online and in person. She decided in high school to join an early childhood development program, as she wanted a career in the future working with young children and people with disabilities. She wanted to give them the love and care that they deserved.
In Tyarra’s senior year of high school, she decided to move in with her grandmother at the Stoneybrook Apartments near Randleman Road. She told everyone she didn't think her grandmother should be living alone and needed company, but others claim she also wanted more independence from her mother.
She graduated from high school in 2014 and took a year off from schooling, planning to go back in December of 2015. She enrolled in Guildford Technical Community College for early childhood development.
On January 7, 2016, she went to the college at 8:00 a.m. to finalize some enrollment papers and get her student ID made.
At 6:00 p.m., she went to her mother's house to tell her about her day and helped take down the Christmas tree. She spent some time with her mother until her boyfriend, Aaron, and Tyarra’s little brother showed up. Her mother, Danielle, said she told Tyarra she would take her shopping the next day to look for textbooks, school supplies, and a laptop.
Around 8:00 p.m., Tyarra, her brother, and her boyfriend left to go back to her grandmother's house for dinner. After they ate, they watched TV for a short time until Tyarra announced around 8:30 p.m. that she was going to meet up with a friend, Travis. Aaron didn't recognize the name but didn't think anything of it.
Aaron, Tyarra’s brother, and Tyarra left the house and began walking out of the apartment complex. Aaron and her brother went to Aaron’s house to hang out and play video games. Tyarra said she would be back in an hour and that her friend lived in the same apartment complex. Her phone GPS shows she made it to her friend's apartment, but it shut off shortly afterwards, indicating that her phone either died or had been shut off. Tyarra’s mother claims her friends never saw her that evening.
9:30 p.m. came and went, and Tyarra hadn't returned home. She didn't text Aaron, and her phone went directly to voicemail when called. Aaron and her brother returned to her grandmother's apartment to wait for her, but she never came back and hadn't messaged them in several hours.
The next morning, on January 8 at 7:00 a.m., Aaron still hadn't heard from Tyarra or seen her. He left the apartment as he had a scheduled an appointment that day. When he came back to the apartment, Tyarra still wasn't home, so he woke up her grandmother to let her know what was going on. Her grandmother tried calling her phone and realized it went right to voicemail. She then called Danielle and asked if she had seen her daughter. Danielle hadn't seen or heard from Tyarra since she left her home the day before. She arranged to meet up with Aaron when she realized something wasn't right.
Aaron and Danielle met up at 12:30 p.m., and Aaron informed her that Tyarra was going to meet someone named Travis. Her mother didn't recognize the name either and decided to log into her daughters Facebook account for clues. No one by the name of Travis was on her friend's list, but her mother did find out Tyarra had been messaging an ex-boyfriend and wondered if ‘Travis’ was an alias she used to go meet up with him. Danielle didn't report her daughter as missing to police until 8:00 p.m. that night after trying to find her daughter herself.
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Search and Investigations
Tyarra had no prior history of running away or leaving without telling someone where she was going. She had no problems at home that would prompt her to want to take off. Her family planned a search of the Stoneybrook Apartment complex on January 9, but nobody reported seeing Tyarra. Police and investigators also later searched the area and interviewed neighbors but came up with nothing. Her family was busy putting up fliers around the apartment complex as well as around the neighborhood.
The case was given to the Crimes Against Persons Squad on January 11, 2016. Danielle spoke with the detectives about what she believed might have happened to her daughter. She relayed the Facebook messages and who she thought “Travis” might have been, and she gave them the real name of Tyarra's ex-boyfriend. His name has never been released due to this still being an ongoing investigation.
Still, he was now a person of interest because he could have been the last person to see Tyarra alive. The investigators brought him in for questioning, and at first he denied ever seeing or talking with Tyarra until investigators showed him the messages from Facebook. He then changed his story and admitted to contacting her first and wanting to arrange to see her. He also admitted that, on the night she went missing, she had met up with him and they sat and talked in his car for about 20 to 30 minutes until she left his car and began walking back to her grandmother's apartment. Text messages between the two corroborate his story. The police searched his car but found no evidence of Tyarra or of foul play.
With the severe lack of evidence, investigators began to dig more into Tyarra’s life and found she had another ex-boyfriend, Tre. They found that Tyarra still loved him, but the two wanted different things in life and so they split ways. Tre still cared for Tyarra, and their breakup didn't end on bad terms. He cooperated with the investigation and answered all questions they had. They determined he had nothing to do with her disappearance, and Danielle also believes Tre was innocent. He was just as upset as her mother about her going missing.
A week after the investigation began, authorities decided to ask the media for help and sent out a press release. Billboards were even put up along local roads, and a Facebook page was made for finding Tyarra. Crime stoppers even released a flyer that they posted and shared. Her family even set up a hotline for tips that was run by her uncle Darryl, who was a former bail bondsman.
Ten days after the hotline was set up, they received a call from a sanitation worker in High Point, NC. He claimed to have seen a girl who resembled Tyarra walking disoriented down the street wearing a dark jacket. Another anonymous witness claimed to have seen the same girl on Textile Drive in Greensboro. Police also received two more tips claiming Tyarra was dead and that her body had been dumped in a tractor tailor lot across the street from the Stoneybrook Apartments. These tips and their searches came up empty.
On February 8, authorities decided to do a more in-depth search around the area of the apartments. This included the wooded areas around the complex, creeks, culverts, and even sewer drains. Unfortunately, it was a cold and icy day, so even with tracking dogs their search came up with nothing.
On February 20, there was an unanticipated development. Tre, Tyarra’s other ex-boyfriend, was found shot dead in his apartment in Greensboro. Police first thought this murder could have been linked to the disappearance of Tyarra, but it was later found out Tre’s death was due to an altercation with his roommate.
Sightings and Mistaken Identities
A few more tips came in, but none of them led to anything until a call in April 2016. A server at a Waffle House in Jesup, Georgia, called to say they thought they had seen Tyarra several times a week come into the restaurant. She was always with a group of girls but never made eye contact or spoke. Darryl decided to travel to Jesup to investigate this claim, but by the time he got out there, the group of girls had stopped coming into the Waffle House.
The server suggested looking into a few motels nearby that they could be staying at. Darryl visited the motels in the surrounding area until he met a manager who said a girl matching Tyarra’s description had been staying nearby with a suspected pimp. Local authorities got involved and investigated the claim, but they found the girl was not Tyarra.
The last supposed sighting of Tyarra came through on June 13, 2016. A relative believed she had seen Tyarra at the DMV in Greensboro but upon calling out her name realized the girl was not her. Police got a hold of the surveillance footage to show Danielle, and she confirmed it was not her daughter.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children added her to their website and also takes calls and tips from all over the United States about Tyarra. Her uncle Darryl follows up as many leads as he can and even put up a reward for $10,000 for any information that can lead to the return of his niece.
On May 6, 2018, Tyarra Williams' case was on an episode of a TV series called Disappeared. In this episode, they discuss Tyarra and what events led up to her vanishing. The episode also follows Tyarra’s grandfather and how he embarks on a cross-country search for his granddaughter. The show focuses on his own investigation and his efforts in finding Tyarra.
Danielle Williams still updates the Facebook page for her daughter and is still determined to find her daughter or find out what happened to her. The family still keeps an eye on the news and updates and keeps their hopes up that one day they will get closure. If she’s still alive, she would be 23 years old in 2020.
There are three main theories as to what might have happened to Tyarra.
Police don’t believe she just ran away from home, and they don’t believe she disappeared voluntarily. They don’t have any strong leads or persons of interest yet, but they do think this was possibly an abduction.
Other people believe Tyarra could have been abducted and taken into human trafficking. From the sightings of a girl resembling Tyarra walking around disoriented, it is believed she may have been drugged and held hostage. Human trafficking is still a very large illegal industry, and millions of persons are said to be sold each year.
The last largest theory people have is that her ex-boyfriend, who has not been named, is involved in her disappearance somehow. He was the last one to have seen her, and he was the one who had reached out to her after she had started a new relationship. Investigators won’t comment on him or on whether he is believed to be involved.
Here is where I will list the phone numbers you can call or emails you can write to if you have any information on Tyarra Williams. I’ll also add her family's Facebook page dedicated to Tyarra and helping find her.
- Greensboro Police Department 336-373-2222
- Crime Stoppers at 336-373-1000
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.