Cold Case: After Two Decades Aiken County Girl Still Missing, I - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Cold Case: After Two Decades Aiken County Girl Still Missing, Investigators Still Searching

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Aiken County, SC -

From Tilwanda Cheatham's home to the store down the street, it's only around a tenth of a mile; that's about a three minute walk. 

"This is one of the last places that Tilwanda Cheatham was located, this would have been the Kwikstop in 1989," Sgt. Jason Feemster of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office explains.

Reports say the eight year old girl walked from her home, borrowed a quarter and made a call at this phone booth.  Tilwanda has not been seen since.

"SLED's helicopter was used, they came in and scanned over the area by air, many units were patrolling by car, talking to people looking for people who might have seen her," says Lieutenant Vicky Gaskins of ACSO's Juvenile Division.

But they didn't find her; that was 24 years ago this week.

"There's always going to be hope, as long as someone cares, there's always going to be hope," Feemster says.

Now, investigators say not giving up hope means not giving up searching for this eight year old pigtailed little girl, who would now be a woman.  

"I wouldn't want anyone to give up hope if it's my child," Gaskins says, "I'd want to continue any tips they would have to forward that information."

They're doing their part by using technology that wasn't available when Tilwanda disappeared - like DNA profiling by obtaining samples from her family:

"It's difficult to go back to them this late, this many years, and ask, we'd like to collect a swab, we want to create a profile," Gaskins explains, "but I think it's encouraging that their child has not been forgotten.  Her profile is in the national database so if remains are found, or if a person comes forward and says, ‘I'm Tilwanda,' it could be compared."

They say those of you sitting at home watching this story could help that happen:

"Somebody out there has some kind of information out there that could help and we need them to call us," Feemster says.

"Some people may not have wanted to come forward at that point, but may now say, ‘I need to tell,'" Gaskins adds.

In spite of these hundreds of pages of tips, they say the one you tell could be the one that could bring Tilwanda home.

If you have any information, please contact the Aiken County Sheriff's Office at 803-642-1761.

Jeremy Grice is another missing child cold case in Aiken County; he disappeared standing barefoot by his mailbox in 1985.  To learn more about Jeremy's story, click here.

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