Monday, October 10, 2011

A Mother's Determination: California Teen Presumed Dead By Police Returns Home To Her Family



VENTURA, Calif. --- After being missing nearly four years, Chioma Gray, 19, was reunited with her family in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, reports ABC affiliate, KABC-TV.

Gray was 15-years old when she disappeared with Andrew Tafoya, 20, who had just been released the night before after serving 7 months in jail for unlawful sex with a minor --- Gray.

Tafoya stole a car and whisked Grey to Mexico; surveillance cameras captured video of them crossing the border. For years, from Tijuana to Mexico City, Gray's family searched for her. Even after officials warned that a charred body discovered in Tijuana was probably Gray, they never gave up hope. 

“All along, Ms. [Francine] Black’s No. 1 priority [has been] to find her daughter,” said M. Cris Armenta, a Los Angeles attorney who took the case pro bono.

The FBI refused to prosecute Tafoya even though he was an adult when he took Gray to Mexico.

“They were not cooperative,” said Armenta.

The family hired private investigator, Chuck Hookstra, who was able to track their whereabouts, including a stop to work at a vacation spot in Mexico, where Gray was a waitress and Tafoya taught snorkeling.  Black filed a civil suit against Tafoya and his family for charges including  "custodial interference, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and aiding and abetting in the interference of custodial relations."

“None of the family members were forthcoming with any information,” Hookstra said in a sworn declaration In January. “Based on my 30-year career of law enforcement and investigation, I believe that the family members of Tafoya do in fact, know where he is and have been providing him money to assist him in concealing Chioma Gray from authorities.”

Gray and Tafoya were allegedly in a relationship. The former Ventura College football player called Gray's mother, then turned himself into the U.S. Marshals Service.

At this time, no charges have been filed.


Renee said...

I'm so happy her daughter returned home safe and sound. Not everyone is as lucky. Wow, this is wonderful to read. Talk about the power of hope. Her mother is really strong.

Makar said...

Until these inequities are addressed there will continue to be a basic distrust of the system, and families of other ethnic groups... I find it very predictable and disgusting that the FBI did not see this as a high enough profile case to exhaust their resources until they got definitive and concrete information on this young black girl's whereabouts. If the family was able to get the job done I am sure the FBI could have easily done the same!

Kudos to the family for not giving up hope, or resting until they got to the very end of this ordeal. It does my heart good. This must be very gratifying and such a relief to know that you have your daughter back with you!!

Also, I think Tafoya facing the consequences of his actions like a man is worth consideration. I don't know if his family had a part to play in convincing him to finally come to justice but if they did that is also worth consideration too, even though they did not give information to the Gray family directly.

Anonymous said...

Glad the young lady finally returned home. Can't help but assume she left of her own free will and not by some force on the part of Mr. Tafoya.

Anonymous said...

It is highly inappropriate for a man to take a 15 year old female out of the country. I'm "old school"......sorry, but he should be punished, because "free will or not", she is still a minor. If she didn't know any better, he did.

Anonymous said...

Praise God, she's alright and mom for keeping the "FAITH" even if she was 15 years old she know right from wrong, however this young man 20 years old of course he told her he love her, and that's all she had to hear, she didn't care about what mommy said or daddy or who ever, no one was going to stop her from seeing Tafoya, she wanted to be with Tafoya,of course he was good looking to her:) Teens these days fall in love and they have no clue as to what's going on, Your "FLESH" the good feeling inside will lead you into the wrong direction and for her to be working there in Mexico and in a relationship with him, she knew what she was doing she wanted to go away with him, I'm glad she's okay, and I believe he treat her okay, 4 years that's a long time, so who knows what happen, since she return back home, hopeful the real true will come out, my prayers goes out to the family:)

Anonymous said...

I went through something similar with my children when their mother abducted them. I found out that where ethnic people are involved, the authorities do little to get the children back. In these type of cases the children of ethnic heritage are brought back by the authorities 15% of the time where as those of white are returned 85% of the time. I had to find my own and even when giving the authorities the whereabouts of my children along with and address, I was told that they were not there, three months after giving this info and contacting newspapers and TV stations in the city where my children were my local police say they had found my children, they told me that they were at the address I had given them three months before. It's sad but it's true the powers that be really have no interest in tracking down our children and I truly feel for what the Gray's must have gone through but I'm sure they will tell you this is par for the course if you are black or hispanic

Anonymous said...

Not trying to be mean or start anything, but why do black people make up such names for their kids?
And then when you ask them to repeat their odd name, or just say it if it's on their name tag, so you can pronounce it correctly, they get belligerent?
At least Chioma is real, but so many others are just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

The daughter is partly to blame for the trouble she caused this family. Why didn't she call, write or go to the police if she didn't want this relationship?

Anonymous said...

I have children and sometimes they have to see the fire instead of smell the smoke to know the house may be on fire. This young miss was convinced by this older young adult that he loved her and her family didnt need hr as much as he did..until she woke up one morning and realized she missed her family which he was not and she was STILL a did he..realize what a mans' responsblities are and how hard they really are.

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