BALTIMORE, Md. — When a loved one goes missing, the pain of their disappearance leaves a hole in the hearts of their friends and families.
WMAR-2 News is opening the files on an unsolved missing person case in Maryland, each Monday in November.
The family of Baltimore's Akia Eggleston not only wants answers but fairness in the search to find her.
Akia Eggleston disappeared more than four years ago.
It was May 3, 2017, when Eggleston stopped at a bank which was located in downtown Baltimore near the Inner Harbor.
She was spotted on the bank's surveillance camera but hasn't been seen or heard from since.
Eggleston’s aunt, Sanobia Wilson said “it's very stressful, not knowing where your loved one is, and it's like a nightmare. Everyday you wake up, it's a nightmare.”
Wilson remembered the days before her niece went missing.
“Her baby shower was on May 7th. She was getting ready for it, she had plans to get her hair done on that Friday, and she was supposed to pick out her dress, and the baby's dress, her daughter, so she was getting ready, she was happy,” Wilson said.
Eggleston’s friends and family also were excited to celebrate with her. Eggleston’s baby shower was held here in a community room at Mondawmin Mall where her loved ones were anxiously waiting for her.
“Before I even got there, people were calling me, telling me 'she wasn't here.' They had already been waiting two hours for her to come there, so when I got the call stating that she wasn't there and nobody could reach her. I knew something was wrong then,” Wilson said.
Eggleston’s loved ones took their concerns to the Baltimore Police Department's southern district station in Cherry Hill and reported her as missing.
“We all showed up begging, asking, pleading, can you help us,” Wilson said.
Wilson said their pleas for help weren’t taken seriously so they took it upon themselves to comb the Cherry Hill neighborhood where Eggleston lived to look for her.
“We did also search the park. It was only about 14 of us. Cherry Hill is a large park. We had no help, no resources. We split up into four groups and walked through the woods, through trash, through dirt,” Wilson said.
Seeing the national coverage and police response given to the Gabby Petito case upset Wilson that people of color don't receive the same amount of attention in missing person cases.
“I mean, her case was solved in what, a week? And my niece, it's been four years and there has been nothing. No resources used. But, for the case with Gabby, yes, everything was used, which is very unfair. And I want people to know that it's unfair. It’s just not right,” Wilson said.
Wilson doesn't believe Eggleston left on her own, because she said there's no way her niece would leave her three-year-old, now seven-year-old daughter behind.
“She knows that her mom is missing, and what we tell her is, is that her mother loves her, and someone made her disappear. And she understands that someone took her mommy. So, it's very hard to explain that to a child,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, Eggleston’s aunt copes with the harsh reality her niece might not come home alive.
“I think that's a little easier, just a little bit. That way, if she pops up alive, I’ll be...it will be so much better, but if she pops up dead, I already have that reservation,” Wilson said.
Wilson wants everyone in the Baltimore area and beyond to know the name Akia Eggleston until her niece is found.
“We should have gotten the resources in the beginning. We would have found some clues, but we were not given those resources, because Akia is an African-American, young, single, mother of two. So, she was not valued. She was not looked at as if she mattered to anybody, but she mattered to us,” Wilson said.
WMAR-2 News reached out to the Baltimore Police Department for a statement on how it handled the case, but have not received a response as of yet.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information regarding the whereabouts of Akia Shawnta Eggleston.