http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/143982/Police seeks help in finding Warren mom missing since December
BY AMY UPSHAW Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2006
Valerie Gibbs set out the afternoon of Dec. 16 to request a restraining order against a male acquaintance she felt threatened by.
Her mother, Shannon Stevens, says she first took the 44-year-old Gibbs to the police department in Warren, where the family had lived for years because they believed it was a safe place for Gibbs' four children. The police directed the pair to the Bradley County Courthouse, Stevens says.
The courthouse had closed by the time they arrived late that Friday afternoon. Gibbs was resigned to waiting until the next week. But she disappeared the next day.
"I never have heard from her again," her worried mother says.
At first, Stevens thought Gibbs, described by her mother as a struggling crack addict ready to change, had checked herself into a rehabilitation center like she had mentioned a while back, and was just unable to call. It wasn't like Gibbs to just disappear.
By Dec. 21, Stevens was concerned enough to report her daughter missing to Warren police.
Arkansas State Police special agents are assisting in the case, which Stevens says she requested so more people would be looking for her daughter. She also has hired a private investigator. The Warren police investigator handling the case did not return a call for comment.
State police Capt. Cleve Barfield, who oversees the criminal investigation division, says investigators do not believe Gibbs disappeared willingly.
"We are concerned because of the amount of time that has lapsed that she could be a victim of a crime," Barfield says. It's out of character to be gone this long."
Barfield says agents can't release details about the case because the investigation is ongoing.
State police Sgt. Todd Daley says investigators for both agencies are following leads, conducting interviews and running down information that they have been provided, though he did not disclose details. Neither Barfield nor Daley discussed specific individuals they were questioning.
"Hopefully, somebody will come forward who saw her after 5 : 30 p. m. on Dec. 17," Daley says. "She's not been heard from or seen since - nothing confirmed anyway."
Dec. 17 is when Stevens last saw her daughter. They had gone together to the post office and to the drug store so Gibbs could buy some color to touch up her blonde hair.
Though her mother says Gibbs smoked crack off-and-on for four years, Gibbs still kept up with her looks. She always made up her big, blue eyes with makeup, fixed her hair, stayed thin. She wasn't just a total loss. She wasn't out [on the streets ] 24 / 7" her mother says. She slept in her bed. Lived here, she came home every night. She cleaned my house during the day." That Saturday afternoon, Stevens dropped Gibbs off at a convenience store, a place Daley says is a hangout for the locals.
"Nobody knew where she was going or what she was going to do [after that ]," Daley says, adding that he's unsure if Gibbs' disappearance is related to her drug use. "Certainly, the longer she stays missing the more we'd feel like foul play would be involved."
Gibbs would not miss Christmas, her mother says. She had been looking forward to seeing her children, two of whom were attending college out of state and another who went to college in Magnolia.
Gibbs' youngest son, a sophomore in high school, lives with his grandmother. Gibbs' daughter, Felicia, made fliers with her mother's photo when she was home for Christmas from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Stevens says she has been putting them up around town, but someone keeps taking them down.
"She loves her children and she wanted the best for them," Steven says. "It isn't like her not to call me. I don't care where she's been."