NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One of the only memories Rayvon Walker has of his mother is a photograph that was taken of them together when he was just 2 years old.
Even then, he’s not sure how much he remembers the moment. “I think I remember that but maybe it could be just a picture and I feel like I was there,” he said.
The last time he saw his mother, Laresha Deana Walker, was when she dropped him off with her sister, Lakesha Chambers, on the evening of Friday, Nov. 19, 1999. Little did her family know, that would be the last time any of them saw her.
As one of three sisters, the youngest, Cimeaka Patton, said they were all very close. She recalled Laresha braiding her hair for school, and many other special memories that made her “one of those sisters that it’s hard to be without.”
“She didn’t have a big group of friends,” Patton said. “The people who she held close to her were her favorite people. She loved her family. She maybe had a handful of friends. Her crowd was very small, but once you were around her you just loved her.”
‘That’s my last memory of us all being together’
Earlier that Friday, Laresha, her sisters and their children had all met up at their dad’s house to spend time together. Patton remembered them joking about having a sleepover that night, which she said was kind of “unusual” because they had never done anything like that before.
“We’re all grown, and we all have our own lives at that point,” Patton said. “We were kind of just joking around, but I think [Laresha] had something to do. She had to drop her car off the next day. And so, that’s my last memory of us all being together.”
Chambers decided to watch Rayvon that night so Laresha could go to Murfreesboro in the morning to get her car appraised. When Chambers went to her sister’s home off Ben Allen Road to get diapers the next day on Saturday, Nov. 20, she was already gone.
Patton said they all had keys to Laresha’s house, so Chambers was able to get inside despite all of the doors being locked. However, all of the lights were on, and music was blaring throughout the house. Laresha’s neighbors also reported hearing loud music coming from the home.
While inside, Chambers noticed the clothes Laresha had worn Nov. 19 were there, indicating she had changed clothes at some point. Chambers called Patton and her mother, Wanda Faye Walker, to let them know Laresha wasn’t home, but the worries hadn’t crept in just yet.
When Laresha still hadn’t returned home by Sunday, Nov. 21, Patton said they knew something was wrong. Wanda called the Metro Nashville Police Department that same day to file a missing person’s report.
“When I tell you she loved Rayvon and there was no way she was not going to keep in contact with us and let us know where she was, she loved him,” Patton said. “We knew something was going on that Sunday.”
Rumors swirl as family deals with the unknown
One of the strangest aspects of the investigation that ensued was that police could not find Laresha’s car. To this day, her red, four-door, 1995 Oldsmobile Achieva with the Tennessee license plate number 419ABG still has not been located.
“I would say there’s definitely foul play considering that even her car had disappeared and had never been found. That’s extremely unusual. Cars always pop up somewhere,” MNPD Cold Case Detective Matt Filter told News 2 in an interview in 2021.
Different rumors of what could have happened to Laresha have swirled over the years, but Patton said there’s never been anything “concrete.” Police believe Laresha was likely abducted, and her family thinks it may have been by someone she knew.
Possibly an unknown person neighbors reported hearing Laresha arguing with outside of her home on the night of Nov. 19. “I believe that something may have happened in the conversation, things went wrong… I don’t think it was a stranger,” Patton said.
Now, more than two decades later, the more time that has passed without any solid answers, the harder it’s gotten for her family. Rayvon said there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about his mother.
“It just makes you think, ‘She missed so much.’ It’s definitely hard and it definitely gets harder every year because I’m just so anxious to find out what happened or where she is,” he said. “I can’t not think about it, like ‘Where’s my momma at?'”
“She’s missed so many kids that have come along and successes in our family,” Patton added. “Rayvon is an electrician. He’s getting his own specialty now. She would be such a proud mom to know that her son has chosen a career actually after my father.”
Another tragedy strikes the Walker family in 2016
Almost unimaginably, the Walker family was hit with another tragedy in October 2016 when Laresha’s own mother, Wanda, also went missing after not reporting for work at the Dollar Tree on Franklin Pike.
“She was literally like the backbone. She kept us together,” Rayvon said of his grandmother. “She was really everything a grandma could be. It’s definitely tough. It’s all around just tough.”
The last place Wanda was seen was the home she shared with her cousin on 11th Avenue South. Her Nissan Maxima was later found by police in the area of Wade Avenue. Officials said it was locked, her purse was inside and there was blood in the backseat.
In the days, weeks, and months after her disappearance, her family members went door to door just trying to find out more information. However, it’s still unclear exactly what happened to Wanda. Investigators haven’t found any indication that the two disappearances are linked.
“It’s not something you want to compare to. It’s awful. I just can’t imagine that it’s happened to anybody else in the world. It’s just so weird,” Patton said. “But this time we were like, ‘We’re going to take matters into our own hands.’ We’re searching, we’re doing everything.”
‘We just want to bring our family back’
The Walker family continues to find ways to remember and spread awareness about their missing loved ones around the anniversaries of their disappearances and their birthdays, and they said they have not given up hope that one day they will get closure.
“We just want to bring our family back, even if we didn’t have them physically. We just want closure. We just want to know what happened, where are they,” Patton said. “People have graves to go to when someone passes away. We don‘t have that because we don’t know.”
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Laresha is described as 5-feet, 7-inches tall and around 190 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes, as well as a distinguishing 2-inch scar on the left side of her chest from when she had heart surgery. Officials said her upper front tooth is also trimmed in gold.
She was 23 years old at the time of her disappearance and would be 47 years old today. Anyone with information on Laresha or Wanda’s whereabouts is asked to contact the MNPD at 615-862-8600 or Crime Stoppers at 615-742-CRIME (615-742-7463). Callers may be eligible for a reward.