Two mysterious calls from a blocked number hours after 13-year-old Mariah Richards disappeared during a trip to a parlour on Monday has her parents worried that she is being held against her will.
“I want them to return my daughter safe and sound. She has a bright future ahead of her and I hope nothing has happened to her. It is a very difficult time right now. The most I can do is to ask that they return my daughter,” said her father Devon Richards in a telephone interview yesterday.
Richards, a retired fire officer, explained that he was not home when his daughter, a Form Two Student of Barrackpore West Secondary School, left her New Grant, Princes Town home to buy bread.
Richards said he went to drop his wife at her workplace in Princes Town.
When he returned home he asked for his daughter and her grandmother said she went to the parlour.
He decided to go look for her because she was supposed to be in her online class. Richards first went by the parlour and then to the grocery.
“Now I start to ask questions if anybody see she because I find it was kind of strange,” he said.
After two hours, he checked a neighbour’s camera footage which showed that she left home around 8.46 am wearing a red dress and black slippers.
He added: “She went in the direction of the grocery. She did not reach out the road because when I check the other cameras down in the streets, the camera did not pick she up because I was in a timeframe situation watching her leave at 8.46 she suppose to reach out the road at about 8.50 and we run back the camera and no camera pick her up passing during that time frame so that kind of get me worried.”
He reported her missing at the Tableland Police Station. They continued searching, but then Mariah’s mother told him a man called from a blocked number and claimed Mariah was with him.
“The mother call me and tell me somebody call her and told her that she is with them and they pick up the wrong person and they will bring her back which is Monday evening or Tuesday sometime during the day. I didn’t believe that conversation because that looking like it was some block excuse or some stupidness.” But, he said they could not contact the person because he called from a blocked number. “Then they call again and she let them know, ‘my daughter is 13 years and she is a minor and I want my daughter back home today…’ They end up hanging up the phone and that was about it for the time being.” He said they tried calling his daughter’s cellphone but it was off. Richards believes the phone call is key to finding his daughter and he is hoping that the Cyber Unit could trace the call and find his daughter.
“I believe that piece of information is key to the case. I do not know how expeditiously the police will look into it. But I feel if they work on that information very fast that it will be the key to the whole thing right now… that phone call. But the person blocked the number. I do not think they called from her phone.”
He recalled that two years ago his daughter went with her friends to lime after school and did not return home until after 3 pm.
But, he said they never had any other issue with her leaving home and he tries always to ensure that his daughter does not leave home without his consent. Richards said he contacted the officer who took the report yesterday but he told him he was not working but he would call him today.
“But, the days bothering me right now because I find the days getting longer and longer and the longer the days is the more frustrated I getting with this situation.”
Meanwhile, he said they will continue searching for Mariah.
“Everybody looking. Right now the whole village searching all about. Everybody calling.” Appreciative of their support, he added, “For the time being we are at a point of no return where we just checking. Richards said the Anti-Kidnapping Squad has also been in contact with them and he is trying to get a readout of the call log from her phone.
He believes someone is holding his daughter against her will.
“If she had left with the intention not to come back, I think she would have left with clothes. That is my thinking,” he added.
Meanwhile, the TTPS issued a press release yesterday asking for the urgent assistance of the public in locating Mariah.
According to the release, Mariah was last seen around 7:45 pm on Monday and was reported missing at the Tableland Police Station on the same day.
“Mariah is of African descent, five feet, five inches tall, medium built and has a brown complexion. She was last seen wearing a red dress and a pair of black slippers,” the release stated.
The TTPS sent out a release yesterday about her disappearance.