Mother holds out hope for missing daughter

January 15, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Yasmin Acree disappeared five years ago Tuesday and her family still holds onto the hope that she can be found alive.

For five years they've waited and prayed.

"I need to know if Yasmin is still here with us," said Rose Starnes, Acree's mother. "Or, I really need to know if she's dead or alive."

Yasmin was just 15 when she disappeared after doing laundry in the basement of her home in the Austin neighborhood.

Since then, the answers have eluded police, while year after year peace has eluded Yasmin's loved-ones.

"This will probably be a day I'll kind of be to myself in bed, just laying there thinking," Starnes said.

Chicago police have acknowledged investigators mishandled the case after Acree was initially classified as a runaway.

"We think the fact that she was African-American, a child of color, it was easy to make that conclusion," said Pastor Cy Fields, New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. "This was an honor student. She had a bright future, well-adjusted."

Yasmin's mother, who says she speaks with a detective weekly, holds no ill-will against police.

"But I just hope nothing like this happens again with, say, Yasmin or any other child either," Starnes.

No one has ever been charged with Yasmin's disappearance. But police have questioned a former upstairs neighbor who's currently behind bars awaiting trial for a series of alleged rapes.

There have been few clues, except for a broken lock on a back gate.

A five-year-old sign that says "we miss u Yasmin" now sits in a front window.

It will remain there until her loved-ones find the answers that allow them to let go.

"I'm hoping one day i find out," Starnes said. "If she's out there, and she's watching, we want her to know that we miss her. And we love her. And we want her back at home."

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