LIBERTY, Mo. — Every day, Patti Tam wonders if this will finally be the day her daughter comes home.
"I don't know, mentally or physically, if I can go through another year," said Tam.
Desirea Ferris went missing on May 2, three years ago. She would be 21 years old by now.
"A part of me left with her that day," said Tam. "I will never be the same."
Ferris left her house in Liberty early on May 1, 2017, and was supposed to be back home that afternoon for Tam's birthday celebration. The family knew something was wrong when she still hadn't called home the next day.
"If i could turn back time, I'd have never went to work that day. Now I'm living with the 'what-ifs'," said Tam. "If I'd have stayed home, would she still be here?"
Ferris' room is still preserved, almost exactly the way she left it. Tam won't change any of it—it's her way of holding on.
On Saturday, Ferris' family and supporters held a virtual vigil in her honor.
Normally, 'Desi's Army' would be together, but COVID-19 has restricted how much they can do.
"There's several people every weekend who are still out searching for her. But as far as big groups, we have not done any big searches," said Jennifer Ferris, Desirea's stepmom.
The family has sifted through horrifying tips and gone on search after search.
Jennifer handles that part so Tam doesn't have to.
Ferris' phone and social media activity went silent around 4 a.m. on May 2, 2017. One of her last cell phone pings bounced off a tower near Interstate 70 and Noland Road in Independence shortly before that.
The family also has another person's pings, one of the people believed to last see her alive. They noticed his phone pings alongside hers until hers shuts off. The family is looking at where his phone pinged from that point on to get ideas on where to search.
"That's what we're trying to stick to is the pings, the timeframe. We have an area," said Jennifer.
Court records show Ferris was with two men before she went missing. The family is holding out hope that someone does the right thing and speaks up.
The Liberty police department still lists Desirea as a missing persons case. They said the people who saw her last, one of which is now in federal prison, may know her whereabouts but invoked their right to stay silent.
The family vows to never stop searching.
"Come hell or high water," Tam always says.
The family still talks about Ferris all the time. They remember how goofy she was, how she loved her nieces and nephew and how she'd burst into uncontrollable laughter when she thought something was really funny.
Tam wonders what her daughter would have been doing now. Would she be working? Going to school? Tam said she could have done anything she set her mind to.
"It's the kind of pain and heartbreak that I didn't know existed," said Tam.
The family urges anyone with information about Ferris' whereabouts to leave an anonymous tip with the police or the TIPS Hotline. The family has started their own hotline, 816-945-2722.