One of the greatest nightmares of any parent is being in public, turning around, and not seeing your child. It's a mundane, everyday occurrence: kids are prone to wander off, unaware of the dangers they face. Most of the time, though, it's just a temporary scare, and the child is quickly found.

But what about when they're not?

Lenoria ("Noria") Eleise Anne Jones had a rough but loving start to life.

Lenoria was born on January 3, 1992. Because she was born with cocaine in her bloodstream, she was diagnosed early with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was placed on Norpramin. Her mother relinquished parental rights, and Lenoria was taken care of by her family, until her great-aunt, Berlean Williams, took custody of her in 1994. Lenoria moved to Tacoma, and Berlean planned to adopt her niece (though some sources report that this was an ongoing custody debate with in her family).

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A year later, Lenoria disappeared.

On July 20, 1995, Tacoma 911 dispatchers received a call from Berlean, claiming that her 3-year-old niece went missing at the Target store on South 23rd Street. As searchers went to work, a review of the video surveillance revealed that Berlean had entered the store alone.

When confronted with this, Berlean's story began to change - and kept changing. Perhaps Lenoria had gone missing before she got to the store, and her great-aunt hadn't noticed. Or perhaps Lenoria was abducted by two men behind her Hilltop home. Or instead, Lenoria was actually safe, just not with Berlean.

Police commented to the Spokesman Review, “We thought we were close several times today that she [Berlean] was going to tell us, and she just clams up . . . She gets to a point, she wants to tell us, and then she stops."

Satellite map of area where Lenoria went missing
Google / Canva

A tipster could have solved Lenoria's case.

In August of 1995, an anonymous tipster told 911 dispatchers information "not known" to the general public. We still don't know what was said, but it wasn't enough to offer a solid lead on Lenoria's disappearance. Detectives continue hoping that the tipster will call them back to help crack the case.

Lenoria's mother spoke out in 2023.

Peter Talbot of the News Tribune wrote a follow-up on the case in 2023, as published in The Chronicle. While detectives offered a renewed call for public attention to the case, Lenoria's mother, Deidre Jones, offered insight into the case that had not been previously reported.

Deidre told the News Tribune that Berlean Williams, Lenoria's great-aunt and custodian at the time of her disappearance, has refused to speak with her since her daughter's disappearance - even if they end up in the same store. Both women now live in Spokane.

Said Deidre, "It's like a slow-eating cancer. It's torture, torture, constant torture."

Deidre also told reporters that there was a report at the time of Lenoria's disappearance that a neighbor overheard someone say "Oh my God, you killed her." It seems like Lenoria's mother believes this story, adding, "They know that they're guilty. They know that they killed my baby."

Lenoria Jones's case info is available with the Washington State Patrol and with the Charley Project.

If you have information, please call Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers at (253) 591-5959 or the Tacoma Police Department at (253) 798-4721. 

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