Mother, local advocate express concerns about missing African-American women’s cases

Gwen Kollock has been searching for her daughter since June 28.
One local advocate believes there is a disconnect and a lack of urgency to bring missing African-American women home.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 7:40 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A high-profile missing persons case in Charlotte has inspired families who also have missing loved ones to keep pressing for answers.

After hearing about Allisha Watts’ disappearance, Gwen Kollock, a Charlotte mother, reached out to WBTV, and expressed how she now feels compelled to share her voice about her daughter who went missing almost three months ago.

Kollock has been counting each day that her daughter has been missing.

”As of today, it’s 76 days that I haven’t heard anything or seen her or anything,” Kollock said. “I just want my daughter home.”

Kollock said her 17-year-old daughter, Alaiyja English, ran away on June 28 and has been missing ever since. She said it is the third time her daughter has run away and is the longest she has been missing.

Alaiyja English
Alaiyja English(Family photo)

In June, Kollock filed a missing person’s report with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, but since then, she said she feels as if her daughter’s case is being somewhat overlooked.

“I’m not saying that they’re not doing anything, but it’s just, everything is kind of slow moving,” she said. “CMPD told me that they are really waiting til her 18th birthday because they’re wanting to see if she’s gonna come back or surface because at 18 she’s legal. That’s not acceptable to me. What mother can just sit by and say ‘Oh I’m just gonna wait til her 18th birthday.’”

Miriam “MeMe” Liles, a local advocate who works with families searching for missing loved ones, said while seeing other cases of missing African-American women, she believes there is a disconnect and a lack of urgency to bring them home.

“Ajani Jones. She likes to be called “AJ.” She’s been missing for three weeks,” Liles said. “When I heard people say ‘she’s been missing for three weeks, I’m just hearing of this,’ that’s a gap. That’s a problem. That disconnect is not what a family is looking for. They’re looking for a follow-up and communication from the people at the detectives and police department that they reported their family member missing to.”

Liles said while searching on the ground for Jones on Tuesday, a search party was able to find her.

“She was located today, so that is great news,” she said. “Definitely good news for one family, but it’s still a sad day for other families.”

Meanwhile, Kollock is hoping to hear good news about her daughter soon.

“I think she wants to come back, but she just doesn’t know how. Or she can’t get back. That’s what my heart is telling me,” Kollock said. “Mama loves you, Mama wants you home. And no matter what, we can get through this.”

Anyone who has information on English’s whereabouts should contact CMPD.

There are some ways you can help families who have missing children and family members, click here to learn how.

Related: Expert provides insight into case surrounding missing Allisha Watts

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