Did Police Bungle Another Missing Persons Case? Lisa Michelle Hatchell Missing 5 Years Today
"Maybe she just went somewhere and died." As incredible as it sounds, that's what Philadelphia police told the mother of Lisa Michelle Hatchell. With that kind of mentality, it comes as no surprise that today, Lisa's 42nd birthday and the 5 year anniversary of her disappearance, she's still missing. Like the case of Lily Aramburo, police have done little to nothing to find her.
"She was the sweetest little girl," Alonie Walton, Lisa's mom recalled. "If you were ever depressed or sad, she would make a face that would make you laugh. She never was a sad or unhappy child."
Lisa grew up in New Jersey and went on to nursing school in Philadelphia. In the mid-80's she joined the U.S. Army where she eventually got married and had a son. The marriage didn't last long. Her husband, also a soldier, wanted to stay in the service. Lisa did not. The couple divorced and, according to Alonie, Lisa's life went downhill.
Crack cocaine entered her life, a circumstance which may have played a role in the lack of effort by law enforcement when she vanished.
"She got involved with the wrong friends," Alonie said. "But she wanted to stop. She went into rehab twice, but it didn't work out. She'd get out and hang out with the same friends and be right back on it again."
One of those friends was her live in boyfriend Tyrone Henderson. The last person known to have seen Lisa. She and Tyrone were together for about 12 years living in southwest Philadelphia, according to Alonie. They broke up early in their relationship. Lisa began dating a former classmate of hers and had a child. Not long after, Tyrone and her got back together for good.
"He seemed to be a nice guy," Alonie said. "When I moved to South Carolina from Philadelphia, he drove me. He was like a friend of the entire family. But I also knew he and Lisa fought a lot."
Tyrone had a good job as an electrician. He held that job up until the time Lisa disappeared. At that point, Alonie said, he quit and sold the house.
Parents always fear that dreaded call in the middle of the night. The call telling them something happened to their child. For Alonie, it was the call she didn't get.
"Lisa always called me at least every two weeks and always called me on her birthday."
On July 19, 2003--Lisa's 37th birthday, she didn't call her mother. In fact, she and Tyrone were supposed to go to a family reunion that day. They didn't show up. Two days later, Alonie called for Lisa. Tyrone answered the phone.
"I asked him to let me speak to Lisa. I wanted to wish her a happy belated birthday. He told me Lisa went out but when she got back he would have her call me. I asked him why they didn't come to the family reunion. He said he and Lisa had a terrible fight because she wanted to get her hair done and I didn't have any money. But we made up. I asked him if Lisa was alright. He said she was and he'd have her call me when she returned." Lisa never called her mother.
"The next day I called back. I asked Tyrone if Lisa was home. He told me she didn't come home last night. I asked him again, is my daughter alright? He said, 'yeah but last time I saw Lisa, she was in the park with a drug dealer. And the drug dealer got shot and killed.' I asked him what was going on. He said nothing and that he was sure Lisa was alright. He said he would have her call me when she got home." Once again, Lisa never called.
"The next day, I called again and told Tyrone Lisa didn't call me. He told me that a woman was found burned in a trash can and he was going to the police to see if it was Lisa. At that point I was really worried about what has happened to my child."
Tyrone called Alonie back to say it wasn't Lisa. "That was the last time I heard from him."
"So I called the police and told them my daughter was missing. They asked me how old Lisa was. When I told them she was 37, they told me that she is an adult and could come and go as she pleases. I kept calling Tyrone but he wouldn't answer."
Frantic, Alonie called the Philadelphia police again. They asked her if Lisa was in any danger. "I said yes, that she was an addict. They told me, 'if they wasted their time chasing down every addict that disappeared, we'd get nothing else done.'"
In early August 2003, Alonie and some family went up to Philadelphia to post flyers. They asked around the neighborhood where Lisa lived if anyone had seen her. "A couple of neighbors said, yes they remembered seeing her. They said her and Tyrone had a terrible fight out here last month." Several neighbors said the fight was very violent. The last time they saw Lisa, she and Tyrone were heading back into their house. "I told the police this but they wouldn't go out and question Tyrone."
For the next year and a half, Alonie continued to call the police asking for help. She was getting no where. Lisa's two children were now living with her and everyday asked where their mother was. Alonie had no answers for them.
In August of 2005, while watching the news, she saw a search going on in Philadelphia for another missing woman who happened to be the relative of a city councilman. Police were combing a park looking for her. "Right then I got up and called the police and asked why every officer in Philadelphia was looking for this child when no one would raise a finger to help me find mine? They told me to call back in the morning. I called back and they gave me the run around. So then I called city hall. They told me to call internal affairs."
For the first time, someone actually listened to Alonie. Within an hour, a detective from the missing persons division called her back. According to the Philadelphia Weekly, the first entry in their files on Lisa Hatchell was August 23, 2005--two years after she was first reported missing. It wasn't until 2006 that police first interviewed Lisa's boyfriend Tyrone. Since then, Alonie said, he left the area and no one knows where he is. The house where the couple lived has been converted into a duplex, possibly destroying any evidence that may have been there. Doesn't matter though. Five years later, the house has never been searched. "My Lisa could be buried in the basement," Alonie said, her voice trembling.
Last fall, Alonie went to Philadelphia to meet with the lead detective and her supervisor. "They made me feel like a second class citizen," she said. "The captain told me that maybe she just went somewhere and died. Just like that. That's not something you tell a mother who's worried about her child. I just shut down and didn't say anything."
Lisa's case has received some needed publicity. Alonie appeared on CNN's Nancy Grace and there has been a few stories in the local paper. But still, there is no word and no movement in the investigation. After being with Lisa for 12 years, Tyrone has never called or checked to see if there is any news on Lisa.
"I think Tyrone did something to her," Alonie said. "But I still hold on to the hope she's alive."
If you have ANY information regarding the disappearance of Lisa, you are asked to please call the Philadelphia Police Department at (215) 685-3258 OR (215) 685-3257. You may also email the family @ FindLisaMichelle@Yahoo.Com.
You may remain anonymous if needed.
Classification: Endangered Missing Adult
Alias / Nickname: Lisa Cotton or Henderson
Date of Birth: 1966-07-19
Date Missing: 2003-07-19
From City/State: Philadelphia, PA
Missing From (Country): USA
Age at Time of Disappearance: 37
Height: 64 inches
Weight: 135 pounds
Hair Color: Black
Hair (Other): Red braids or weave.
Eye Color: Black
Identifying Characteristics: Double pierced ears, small scar under neck, birthmark on outer right thigh, very small scars on both ankles from insect bites, previously fractured left ankle.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Unknown. Lisa was last seen at approximately 10:00pm in the vicinity of the 5400 block of Warrington Ave. in Philadelphia, PA.
Investigative Agency: Philadelphia Police Department
Phone: (215) 685-3258
Alternate Phone: (215) 685-3257
Investigative Case #: 05-12-65603