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Missing Liberty woman Desirea Ferris' family marks 1,000 days since disappearance

Family hopes phone pings provide answers
Posted at 12:27 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 19:30:17-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Desirea Ferris' family has not seen or heard from her in 1,000 days.

"I just want her home," Ferris' mom, Patti Tam, said. "But each day that goes by, there's less and less chance that it's going to have a good outcome."

Ferris was 18 when she disappeared on May 2, 2017. Soon, her family will celebrate her 21st birthday without her.

"I remember it clearly," Tam said. "It didn't really sink in that anything was wrong until the next night when I looked on my Verizon and saw that all phone activity stopped that morning of (May) 2nd."

Ferris, of Liberty, was last seen in the early morning hours of May 2. Her family does not know where she is now and fears she may be dead.

Some of Ferris' family sat down with 41 Action News on the 1,000th day since she went missing to share new information about her case they haven't released publicly.

Initially, the family believed Ferris' phone turned off around 4 a.m. near East 83rd Street and Hillcrest Road in Kansas City, Missouri.

"We were able to get the pings. I emailed her detective and begged him to let us have the pings," Desirea's stepmom, Jennifer Ferris, said.

They put the pings on a map.

Now, they've pinpointed one of the last pings from her cell phone bouncing off a cell phone tower around 3:14 a.m. near Interstate 70 and Noland Road in Independence.

This is the timeline of her phone pings:

  • Around 4 a.m. on May 1, her phone pings near her house in Liberty;
  • Around 4 p.m., her phone pings near a tower at East 27th Street and Cleveland Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri;
  • At 4:30 p.m., her phone pings near East 30th Terrace and Van Brunt Boulevard;
  • At 5:25 p.m., her phone pings back near her house again;
  • At 5:46 p.m., her phone pings near 700 N. Church Road in Liberty;
  • Between 7 and 8 p.m., her phone pings near Holmes Road and Interstate 435;
  • At 9 p.m., her phone pings near the Oakwood neighborhood off U.S. 71 in south Kansas City;
  • At 10:45 p.m., her phone pings near a tower at West 124th Street and Wornall Rd in south Kansas City;
  • Between 1 and 2 a.m. on May 2, her phone pings near East 75th Street and Prospect Avenue;
  • Between 3 and 3:14 a.m., her phone pings near a tower at East 43rd Street South and Washington Avenue in Independence.

This timeline is approximate and could be missing some pings.

Her family knows Desirea was texting until around 4 a.m. before the phone shuts off, which was unusual for her.

"We figure out the distances, figure out where around those pings somebody could have possibly left her and we go and search the areas," Jennifer said. "That's how we do it."

The family also got another person's pings, and noticed the two phones ping alongside one another until her phone is turned off. That person is believed to be among the last to see her, according to court records.

"We have found nothing of Desi, so what do you do with that?" Jennifer said. "You have to keep your mind in the mindset that she's still out there and that's why we keep doing what we do."

The family continues to search, investigate tips and hold out hope as they spread the word about Desirea's disappearance.

The Ferris family created a Facebook page, "Bring Desirea Ferris Home," which has nearly 17,000 followers. Another Facebook page, "Desi's Voice: Speaking For Those Who Can't," raises awareness about other missing persons cases.

The family set up their own tip hotline number, 816-945-2722, in hopes of generating the one tip that breaks the case open.

Liberty police declined our request for an interview, but sent 41 Action News this statement:

"In providing information we must leave out many details for the integrity of the investigation, which has developed significantly."

The police statement also acknowledged the public attention the case has generated, including coverage by 41 Action News along with a "People" magazine story and segments on "Crime Watch Daily" and the "Maury Show."

The Liberty Police Department statement continued:

As you know, we are a suburban police department located on the northeast side of Kansas City, Missouri. Desirea grew up here in Liberty, and she was reported missing to our department. One of the more challenging aspects of this investigation for our detectives has been that the entire investigation has revolved around people and locations in south Kansas City, across the metropolitan area away from our jurisdiction. The national media exposure, while potentially helpful, has also generated many leads which are checked out, but unfortunately have not advanced the investigation. The Liberty Police Department has handled this case as the highest of priorities. We have received assistance from other agencies during this investigation, which includes KCPD, other area law enforcement agencies, as well as federal law enforcement.

There are subjects who are incarcerated for federal offenses who may have information about the disappearance of Desirea Ferris. Investigators believe these people have not disclosed all they know to law enforcement. Detectives have either interviewed them, or attempted to interview them, during the course of this investigation. For the integrity of the investigation, we decline to identify or characterize the status of specific individuals for this case investigation. Some people interviewed for this case have invoked their Miranda rights. Once someone in custody invokes Miranda by expressing a desire to remain silent or have legal counsel present, police must stop interrogation. Investigators have maintained contact with Desirea Ferris's family and helped coordinate communications with the family and federal law enforcement.

We are careful not to release information that may have the unintended consequence of endangering the successful completion of this investigation. Tips continue to come in from time to time, and this investigation remains active. Anyone with information for this case, especially first hand information, should call the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS hotline at 816-474-8477.
Liberty Police Department