CHICAGO — Friday a new possible lead in the search for two girls who went missing from Chicago’s South Side 18 years ago was determined to be a hoax.
Shelia Bradley-Smith, the great-aunt of Tionda and Diamond Bradley said she’s been contacted by a woman who claims to be Tionda.
The woman lives in Beaumont, Texas and reached out to Bradley-Smith on Facebook.
But that woman turned out to be a fraud. It was all a gut-wrenching development for a family that’s been through a tortuous ordeal that began back in 2001.
Bradley-Smith told WGN News she tried not to get her hopes up even though she wanted to very much.
“It’s just so difficult,” she said. “You have to prepare your heart and your mind. What if it’s not them?”
The sisters were, just 10 and 3 when they vanished.
The woman, calling herself “Laylay Rodriguez” on Facebook, knew a lot of general details about the case but Bradley-Smith said when she asked specific questions, things got tense.
“At that point, she became aggravated, highly aggravated and disappointed at the same time,” she said. “She said, ‘Auntie, of all the people, you should know this is me.’”
Bradley-Smith said the conversations grew more cryptic and woman stopped responding. The family’s private investigator Pete Foster got involved.
“This information that she’s providing the public, especially on social media is all false,” Foster said.
Investigators said the woman has reached out to several members of the Bradley family, claiming to be both missing girls, has used multiple names on social media and may have tried a hoax like this before.
The family said they are not giving up hope. They are considering legal and civil action against the woman.