CHICAGO (CBS) — A Texas woman who said she’s Tionda Bradley, who went missing from her Chicago home with her sister Diamond nearly two decades ago was lying, the Bradley family now says.
Tionda and Diamond’s great aunt, Shelia Bradley-Clark, has been searching for them for 18 years.
She sent the following statement to CBS 2 Friday night:
“With agonizing regret, the search for MISSING DIAMOND AND TIONDA BRADLEY CONTINUES. Unfortunately the information provided on social media from this group of scammer are NOT MISSING DIAMOND AND OR TIONDA BRADLEY. We hope that all will continue to provide any tips as to the whereabouts of Diamond and Tionda Bradley. We thank you the Community, the Law Enforcement Community, the News that covered this heartbreaking HOAX. We further thank the Private Investigator and all tips that were provided to expose those responsible for this CRUEL AND EVIL ACT.”
“It’s so emotional I can’t even describe it,” Bradley-Clark said. “It still feels like yesterday.”
On Friday, she spoke on the phone from Minneapolis about Facebook messages sent by a Texas woman who said she would take a DNA test to prove that she’s Tionda.
Bradley-Clark’s great niece was just 10 years old when she went missing from her South Side neighborhood with her 3-year-old sister Diamond back in 2001.
Police scoured the area but never found them.
“I have to control my emotions with this because what if it’s not her? What if it’s somebody playing a cruel joke?” Bradley-Clark said.
Pastor Paul Jakes, who’s served as a spokesperson for the family over the years, said he was praying that it was her and not a hoax.
“We’ve done so much over the years,” Jakes said. “I’ve always kept the faith that these children would be found.”
But he’s followed up on other false tips in the past.
“The daughter should make herself available, give a blood test and cooperate with authority,” Jakes said.
The family’s private investigator said Chicago police and the FBI were aware of the claim and are looking into it.
Bradley-Clark said investigators were ordering an expedited DNA test to prove whether or not she’s one of the long lost girls.
“I’m hoping with all the hope I have that it is. If it’s not, then she will just have to face legal ramifications,” she said before the news.
On Friday, Chicago police would not confirm their involvement with this case.
Rev. Jakes said that even if this turns out to be a dead end, he’s hopeful it will bring renewed attention to the girls’ disappearance.