It is not at all uncommon for a young person to want to explore the world outside of the one he or she grew up in. Our parents instill in us things we want to adopt into our own lives and pass on to our children, but no parent is perfect, so there are aspects of life at home that we want to shed as we get older.
Phoenix Coldon was no different. Hailing from Spanish Lake, Missouri, the young woman grew up in a deeply religious family where her family supported her many interests, which included fencing and music. Phoenix was a versatile musician who was skilled at playing the piano, guitar, and violin.
Friends and family describe Phoenix as a polite, friendly, intelligent person who was well-liked by everyone. She loved God and was deeply religious herself. But having been homeschooled beginning in the sixth grade, the 23-year-old was naive and didn?t go out much. This lack of street smarts likely played a role in the events of December 18, 2011.
That day started as a typical Sunday but would turn out to be anything but typical.
That afternoon after church, Phoenix?s mother, Goldia Coldon, watched her daughter go outside and get in her car. Phoenix regularly sat in her car to make phone calls, which Goldia thought was odd. She seemed to want more privacy than even her bedroom could provide. But despite finding it odd, she wasn?t particularly alarmed by the behavior.
Around 2:20 that afternoon, Phoenix?s father, Lawrence, saw Phoenix back out of the driveway in her car and assumed she was going to a convenience store or a friend?s house. It was the last time her family ever saw her.
Hours later, Phoenix?s 1998 black Chevy Blazer was found abandoned in a dangerous section of East St. Louis. She had left her glasses, her purse, a pair of shoes, and her ID inside the vehicle.
Retired police officer Joe Delia participated in a documentary about Phoenix?s disappearance. He told Fox News:
? The area where Phoenix?s car was found was East St. Louis, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country. Could Phoenix had been a victim of foul play? Absolutely. That was one of the theories we went on. But there?s no record of Phoenix or her body ever being recovered. And when you look at the time frame of what happened from when Phoenix left her house to the time her car was found was a pretty short time frame.?
The Coldons were mystified when they learned where their daughter?s car was abandoned. There was no reason ? that they knew of ? why Phoenix would have been in such an unsavory part of the city. But as they would soon find out, there was a lot they didn?t know about their talented, loving, God-fearing daughter.
Lawrence and Goldia Coldon said that law enforcement immediately branded their daughter a runaway and that neither police nor the media treated Phoenix?s disappearance with enough urgency because she was black. The lack of interest in missing persons cases involving black women is something I recently covered on this blog. Tragically, it happens far more often than you might think.
The Other Side of Phoenix
Phoenix grew up in a strict family and it seems that at some point, she decided it was time to carve out a path of her own. But she did her carving in secret, knowing her family wouldn?t approve of some of her actions.
After Phoenix disappeared, her family discovered that she never enrolled for the upcoming semester in college and had previously lived with a boyfriend before moving back home. This was something she hid because her parents believed that sex should be saved for marriage.
At some point, according to friends, Phoenix started getting into rap music and experimenting with drugs. There?s nothing wrong with listening to rap music, but it wasn?t the type of music that Phoenix was known to enjoy, so her friends found it odd.
The Other Mike
It eventually came to light that Phoenix was using two cell phones at the time of her disappearance, one that was paid for under her family?s plan, and one that she paid for herself. She used the second phone to communicate with a man so that her boyfriend, Michael B., wouldn?t find out. Michael B. was the boyfriend she had secretly been living with while she was in college.
The man that Phoenix tried to hide from her boyfriend was also named Mike, and when Mike #2?s ex-girlfriend spoke with investigators, she revealed that Mike #2 could get violent, and had been violent with her. She had even taken filed a restraining order against him.
The ex-girlfriend didn?t know if Mike #2 had anything to do with Phoenix going missing, but she had her suspicions. When she questioned Mike #2 about his involvement, he asked her:
?Why are you worrying about someone who?s dead??
No one knows if Mike #2 was privy to information no one else knew, or if he was just assuming Phoenix was dead.
Not the Phoenix Her Friends Knew
A friend of Phoenix?s, Akira Hogan, told Oxygen that Phoenix had been arguing with her parents more than usual, that she seemed irritable and ?down,? and that she had grown paranoid in the days and weeks leading up her disappearance. Phoenix reportedly believed that people were watching her and that ?something? was out to get her.
?We argued about something stupid ? [She said] I said something about her and her boyfriend. I don?t know if she was just trying to scare me, but she carried around a knife ? She pulled it out ? and I was like, ?OK, well, are you going to use it? Who are you cutting???
The knife in question was not found in Phoenix?s abandoned car.
The friends put their disagreement aside, but it wasn?t long before Phoenix shocked Akira again by telling her she was planning to pack up her belongings and leave. Phoenix never told her friend where she was going or if she planned on leaving by herself.
?Her mental state, like, it wasn?t Phoenix. ? That?s not my friend.?
The Infamous Selfie Video
If you?re familiar with this case, it?s probably because you have seen bits and pieces of a selfie video Phoenix made approximately one month before she got in her car and fell off the radar. I tried to find it online but didn?t have any success.
Police only released part of the video, but in it you can hear Phoenix telling the camera that she just wants ?to start over,? but feels that she can?t. She also prays a modified version of the Serenity Prayer.
Phoenix says in the video:
?Lord, please help me accept the things that won?t change and that I won?t change the things that I can?t change.?
Parts of the video were inaudible, so Lawrence and Goldia took it to an audio expert to see if they could glean more from the recording. After a little cleaning-up, Phoenix could be heard in the video saying:
?I just want to be happy, man. I can?t remember a time when I was happy. Genuinely happy. ? I feel so stupid because I let myself go a little bit. I probably would have been in a better situation if I would have stuck with how it used to be ? .?
The Coldon family, along with Phoenix?s friends, struggle to accept the possibility Phoenix deliberately left everyone and everything she loves behind, but there is evidence to suggest that may have been the case?
Phoenix Was Abducted by Sex Traffickers
Phoenix?s car was abandoned in a crime-ridden part of East St. Louis, and I-70 runs through the city. St. Louis and Kansas City are connected by the interstate and both cities are major hubs for sex trafficking. I-70 is sometimes referred to as ?the sex trafficking highway of America.?
Source: EAC Network
In a statement posted by the Missouri Sheriff?s Association, Rep. Nathan Tate, R-St. Clair said:
?The St. Louis metro region is one of the top 20 areas in the country for human trafficking.?
Phoenix?s car was left in the middle of a traffic lane with the motor still running, and she left important personal items inside, including her glasses, purse, and a pair of shoes. It?s possible that Phoenix pulled over for someone or was run off the road and kidnapped by human traffickers.
It would be difficult for someone who had been trafficked to go so long without contacting a friend or relative, but it?s not beyond the realm of possibility.
She Met with Another Form of Foul Play
When Phoenix disappeared, no one ever heard a peep from her again. There has been no activity on any of her bank accounts, social media profiles, or cellphone accounts since she went missing, suggesting the young woman?s life ended on that fateful day.
There are many aspects of the case that we don?t know because the police haven?t released much information, but we do know that she was in contact with ?Mike #2? and he supposedly had a violent past.
Phoenix?s parents surmise their daughter got involved with a sketchy group of people who know something but aren?t talking. In 2012, police admitted they were concerned for her safety. However, the police also said the only DNA they found in Phoenix?s car was her own and there was no other evidence of foul play.
There is evidence to suggest Phoenix was involved with multiple different men in the months leading up to her disappearance, though. Moreover, many of the so-called ?friends? Phoenix spent time with in her final days have refused to speak with the family or investigators, leading her longtime friends to conclude they might never have known Phoenix at all.
Phoenix Ran Away
A still photo from Phoenix Coldon?s selfie video ? Source: Oxygen.com
Phoenix wanted to walk away from her life and start over. She made that abundantly clear in her selfie video. All of us have felt that way at one time or another, though few people actually run away. But we have no idea what Phoenix got herself into or why she was so desperate to start over. If she was carrying a knife and paranoid that someone wanted to do something to her, it?s possible she felt it necessary to get as far away from home as possible.
That might help explain the phone calls she took in her car and some of her friends? unwillingness to talk to investigators.
There have been multiple reported sightings of Phoenix and, sadly, multiple hoaxes. None of the sightings have been confirmed.
But listen to this?
Private investigator Steve Foster discovered that Phoenix Coldon had two birth certificates. One was under the name Coldon and the other was under the name Reeves. Reeves is the maiden name of Phoenix?s mother, Goldia.
Foster could not confirm whether Phoenix ever attempted to assume the name Reeves, but he found no indication that anyone had tried to update, apply, or renew any of Phoenix?s government information.
Later on, Joe Delia hired another private investigator to look into Phoenix?s credit history and driver?s licenses to see if there was any link to Phoenix Reeves. The PI found four other Phoenix Reeves in the U.S. and eliminated three out of the four.
However, the fourth Phoenix Reeves was a bit suspect, having no birth date, no social security number, and no relatives listed. The only address associated with it was in Anchorage, Alaska.
Delia traveled to the Anchorage address and spoke with a woman whose son owns the house. She said her son had lived at the house since 2002 and had never heard of a Phoenix Coldon or a Phoenix Reeves, and when Delia spoke with neighbors, none of them remembered ever seeing someone who looked like Phoenix.
Goldia and Lawrence Coldon ? Source: Crimeola.com
Goldia doesn?t believe her daughter left of her own volition. Her theory is that her daughter is being held against her will and has not been allowed to call home.
She told TVOne about Phoenix?s car:
?Her purse and wallet were in there, which the police have. There was a 32-ounce soda cup with soda in it, some candy, lemon slices in a plastic sandwich bag, and a note torn up in big pieces with one or two pieces missing.?
Was there any significance to the note? Goldia explained:
? Police showed me the note and asked if it was Phoenix?s handwriting. I said no. I showed it to my husband and he said no. But, it bothered me. I asked the lead detective if I could have a copy. I poured over that note. I got some of her notebooks and some were written in real fast and I took a magnifying glass and I came to the confusion that this was her handwriting. It looked like when she writes real fast. I poured over that note until I pretty much figured out what it said. I wrote it down and told them [police]. Police said it was us [Phoenix and I] passing a note back and forth in church [earlier that day]. One, Phoenix didn?t sit with me in church. She sat two pews behind me that day. Two, either she wrote that note sitting in the driveway and tore it up before service. Or three, after service I usually go into the parlor for fellowship and she waited in her truck and said don?t stay too long. I believe she wrote it waiting for me and tore it in big pieces and put it in the glove box. She could have got up and put it in the dumpster that was right there but I think she knew if something happened to her we would search her truck.?
People walk away from their lives all the time, but it?s exceedingly rare for someone to willingly go missing for so long without being found or at least leaving behind a tangible clue.
The family of Phoenix Coldon leans on prayer to carry them through the long days without her. I pray, too, that sometime soon, they will be able to bring Phoenix home, or at least know that she is out there, safe.