There are a lot of things Rose Mae Starnes misses about her daughter Yasmin Acree.
The teen honor student disappeared from her basement bedroom in her Austin neighborhood apartment nearly four years ago. She was 15 at the time. While police officials said the case is still an open and active investigation, Yasmin’s absence cuts deep for Starnes, who remembers her daughter as an avid reader.
“On a good day, she would like to cuddle on the couch, get a blanket and get a paperback book and just sit back and read. She loved reading,” Starnes recalls.
“It is so much I miss about Yasmin,” she added. “I miss seeing her. I miss the things she do. I even wonder what she looks like now – just so many things when you got a child you haven’t seen in so long.”
Yasmin’s family marked that long absence on the day she would have turned 19. Her family on Oct. 25 organized a press conference to ensure that Yasmin’s case stays a public priority. Family members fear that the case will fall through the cracks with a change in police administration.
The family, including West Side activist the Rev. Ira Acree, wants assurances from new Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy that Yasmin’s case will get the same priority promised under predecessor Jody Weis.
“As much as I believe in prayer, being a man of faith, I suggested that we need to do something more than praying this year so we can get Chicago’s attention again even if it is nothing but for a couple of days for this missing teen,” Acree said.
The family last week requested a meeting with McCarthy to discuss the case. An aide to the superintendent promised to get back with the family to set up a date. The family’s push for a meeting stems from a 2009 finding of police misconduct from the Independent Police Review Authority.
That complaint alleges that the original detectives on the case failed to confiscate a broken padlock on a security gate leading to the basement, or to dust for prints. The padlock was later taking into evidence three days after Starnes’ daughter went missing on Jan. 15, 2008.
“We are not even sure if Superintendent McCarthy knows about this because he is new on the scene,” said Acree, Yasmin’s second cousin. “Even though it wasn’t up under his watch he still inherits the problems and perks of the superintendent’s office. So we would expect him to be sensitive to that and ensure our family that this is not swept under the rug, and they are still vigilant about this case; and that he is aware about this case.”
In 2009, Weis brought in an FBI profiler to help on the case. The department also partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Acree recalled Weis being “very accessible” since the case was compromised when police did not remove the padlock.
“We just don’t want this kid to be forgotten,” Acree said. “We got to use everything we can to keep this case on the forefront. We need Chicago’s help. Any news associated with Yasmin is better than us sitting back at home praying for her to be discovered.”
Starnes, who gets regular updates from the detectives working the case, also wants answers.
She said she doesn’t want to see her daughter become a “cold case.” But she added she still has confidence in the police even though the case was mishandled initially.
“I do believe that they are doing their best,” Starnes said.