Grandma's Message To Missing Teenage Girl
The grandmother of a missing teenage girl who was last seen in Rockaway earlier this month has a heartfelt message for her granddaughter: "I love you unconditionally. I'm your granny, you don't have to run and you don't have to hide."
Aloha Evans, the 54-year-old maternal grandma of suspected runaway Kiara Hawkins, 13, sat down with The Wave this week and detailed the troubling circumstances surrounding her granddaughter's disappearance. Hawkins, a foster child and a student at the Scholar's Academy at M.S. 323 on Beach 104 Street, hasn't been seen by her grandma or foster family since she left school on May 1.
Evans said she fears that her granddaughter may have tried to call her on her cell phone, which was temporarily turned off. Her service was restored this week. And she has bigger worries, too.
"I really think Kiara is pregnant," Evans said. "I'm very concerned about who she is staying with."
Evans said she heard that an older man has been picking up Kiara - a beautiful young girl with high cheekbones and a bright smile - from school in his car.
Friends have also tried to send messages using the popular online site MySpace.com, where registrants can create their own webpage. "Kiara come back we all miss you... just today we found an article in The Wave about u come back plz," read a message from a schoolmate, Keira, written in the punctuation-free, often abbreviated prose of internet. Other messages urged her to hurry back or asked why she hasn't been in school. In her blog, short for web log - an online diary - Kiara begins one entry by asking, "Don't you just hate it when you are betrayed by your family and friends." In another section she says she is 25 years old.
The site shows she hasn't logged on since April 27.
While it isn't clear whether Kiara disappeared on her own volition, Evans shared details that could explain why she would run away. In 1998, Kiara's childhood was violently interrupted at age 5 when she was on vacation with her family. Filecia Evans-Mattieu, Kiara's mother and one of Evans' three children, visited Evans in Georgia with Kiara and two of her other daughters, YaaSefa, 4, and a newborn, Destiny. Filecia's husband of two weeks, Destiny's father, drove a cramped Mitsubishi from New York for the two-week trip so that Evans could see her newest granddaughter. The car was packed so tight that Filecia's eldest daughter, Chaniece, 13, could not come along.
Evans, who relocated to Georgia in 1997 with $100 and a one-way ticket to distance herself from her own difficult childhood, adult life and failed relationships, said the trip was so nice that Filecia said she wanted to move there. But on the way home, Jimmy lost control of the car and struck a tree in North Carolina. Jimmy, Filecia and the three girls were ejected from the wrecked car. Kiara had glass surgically removed from her body; Destiny suffered a fractured skull and a lacerated spleen; YaaSefa's leg was fractured and she would spend months with rods protruding from her thigh, and later she was confined in a body cast.
Evans was devastated when Jimmy called and a nurse advised her that Filecia was in critical condition. "I started screaming and I went blind," Evans recalls. Filecia died while Evans and her boyfriend were en route to North Carolina.
Jimmy sought custody of Felicia's four girls, but Evans resisted, she says, because of his limited time with Chaniece, Kiara and YaaSefah, who all have different fathers. They agreed he would take custody of Destiny, since she was his "flesh and blood." The older girls went to Georgia to live with grandma.
Evans said she was able to buy a small but comfortable house with the girls' Social Security death survivor's benefits and her six-day-per-week job at a correctional facility. "It was me, God and these kids," she says.
But it wouldn't last. Evans and Chaniece, the oldest granddaughter, started fighting with boys and curfews as the central issues. Chaniece alleged that Evans was physically abusing her granddaughters, allegations that Evans denies. Grandma was brought up on charges. Chaniece moved back to New York with her father and, Evans says, without her Social Security contributing to the mortgage she lost the house in Georgia.
"If we stuck together and worked together we would have been satisfied," Evans lamented.
Back in New York, Evans and the girls stayed briefly with relatives before going to live with an old friend of Evans' who lived in Far Rockaway and was undergoing treatment for cancer. The allegations of physical abuse persisted and the Administration for Children's Services started visiting. Evans says the visits were too frequent and intrusive considering they were living in the home of a woman who is ill.
The girls went into foster care and Evans went to live in a shelter. Kiara lived in six different foster homes within a two-year period, according to Evans, who said her granddaughter was mistreated at most of them.
Evans is now fighting ACS for custody of Kiara and YaaSefah who, until recently, lived at a foster home in Jamaica, Queens. Their foster mother, who asked that we not print her name, said the girls "used to live well" with her. "They were not bad when I had them," she said. "All of a sudden they changed." YaaSefah went to a new foster home around the same time Kiara disappeared, she said. "Nobody knows where she is."
Little Flower Children and Family Services, the agency that has found foster homes for Kiara and YaaSefah within its network, declined comment on Evans' comments to The Wave. "We can not comment on specifics on any child's case," said Alyson Gladle, a spokesperson, who cited privacy issues. Gladle, who provided the paper with Kiara's photo, reiterated that the Little Flower's focus is on Kiara's whereabouts. "Finding Kiara is the priority, her safety is a priority," said Gladle.
Kiara was last seen wearing pink and silver sneakers, gray pants, a gray and pink striped shirt, a black sweater with ruffles and her hair in a bun. She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Missing Persons at (212) 473-2042.