http://www.wisn.com/news/21632352/detail.htmlWhat Happened To Alexis Patterson?
Milwaukee County Sheriff Fears Girl Won't Be Found Alive
Alexis Patterson Age progression image of what Alexis would look like today
November 16, 2009Watch Video
MILWAUKEE -- Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart and Shawn Hornbeck are all young people who went missing and were kidnapped but who were eventually found alive -- sometimes years later.
Thier stories made 12 News reporter Joyce Garbaciak wonder about a little girl who seemingly vanished from Milwaukee named Alexis Patterson
More than seven years ago, a picture of Alexis with a big smile and braids dominated the news for weeks as hundreds of people searched for the little girl. To this day, she has not been found. Still, her absence continues to haunt one woman in particular.
As a grandmother, Linda Campbell knows all about pride. She also knows about heartache.
"Just what happened to the baby? What happened to her?" Campbell asked.
Campbell wonders about Alexis Patterson.
"To be 7 years old and to disappear like that, it just didn't add up," Campbell said.
Though Campbell doesn't know the little girl or her family, she said Patterson's disappearance has left a void in her.
"She's not a part of my family, but she's a part of all our families because she's just a kid," Campbell said.
The odyssey began Friday, May 3, 2002, when Alexis -- then a 7-year-old first-grader -- never made it to school.
Her stepfather, LaRon Bourgeois, told 12 News that night that he had walked Alexis to Hi-Mount Boulevard Elementary School that morning -- about half a block from her home -- and left her on the playground.
"There was just a lot of people outside playing, so I don't see how anyone could abduct her," Bourgeois told 12 News that night in 2002.
Her mother tearfully pleaded for her return.
"Mommy wants you home. I want my baby," Ayanna Patterson said in 2002.
Neighbors and law enforcement began to search from the ground, water and air. They posted ribbons and held vigils, but the days turned into months, and the months dragged into years. Still, there was no trace of the little girl.
Today, an age-progression drawing shows what 14-year-old Alexis would look like, and those images brought tears to Alexis' father's eyes.
"She was a real sweet child," Alexis' father, Kenya Campbell, said.
As he was when she went missing seven years ago, Campbell remains an inmate -- now at the Black River Correctional Center in Black River Falls. He said he believes his daughter is alive.
"I can't come to grasp thinking my daughter's no longer here, even though it has been several long years," Kenya Campbell said.
Kenya Campbell said he believes Alexis was taken by someone who had an issue with her stepfather.
"Let's just say my daughter got caught up in some grown folks' business -- something that didn't have nothing to do with her," Kenya Campbell said.
While Kenya Campbell has his theories, none have been proven.
Bourgeois had his own court date last week.
"He's a drug user. A very, very significant drug user," defense attorney Michael Steinle said.
Steinle said Bourgeois' drug habit worsened because of stress surrounding Alexis' disappearance.
"Because of his stepdaughter going missing, he is constantly barraged with questions," Steinle said.
Early into Alexis' disappearance, police questioned both Bourgeois and Alexis' mother. Last week, he tearfully told the court, "Ive been hurting the last seven years."WISN 12 News was told Bourgeois didn't want to talk about Alexis.
Bourgeois has been divorced from Alexis' mother since 2005. Ayanna Patterson didn't want to go on camera, but she told 12 News, "It's killing me that I don't have my child. When I'm on the news, it breaks me down. It's so painful to me and my other children. It's hard for me."
She said she appreciates that Alexis' picture will be shown again, hoping it generates some clues.
"To be frank, there haven't been any real solid leads in the last year or two," prosecutor Mark Williams said.
While the case is cold, Williams denies that officials have given up.
"That's not true. I know first hand there are police officers out there that are looking for her. And any lead that we ever get, we follow up intensely on," Williams said.
"This is as puzzling a situation as I've seen in my 31 years in law enforcement," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said.
Clarke believes unlike Dugard and Smart, Alexis Patterson won't be found alive.
"My gut just tells me that won't be the case," Clarke said. "I think the only way this is going to be solved is if somebody who knows something about this gives it up."
Linda Campbell said she wonders and hopes that those involved eventually do the right thing.
"Somebody out there has to know something. Somebody has to know something about this," Campbell said.
After Garbaciak's interview, Alexis' father sent a letter from prison telling her Milwaukee police took a DNA sample from him this past May. He hasn't heard anything since.
Milwaukee police would not provide anyone to speak on camera. A spokeswoman said they continue to investigate every lead.
Chief Judge Jeff Kremers confirmed for 12 News that a John Doe investigation began in 2003 and is ongoing today. A John Doe is a closed, secret proceeding designed to gather information. Kremers wouldn't say anything about what has been learned so far.