AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It was 31 years ago on March 18 when twin, 15-year-old girls went missing from the Augusta neighborhood they grew up in. After waiting for decades, the family of Dannette and Jeanette Millbrook still believes someone has information that can end the search.
“It was very much two, twin girls that was trying to get to school. That’s all they wanted to do,” said Shanta Sturgis, the younger sister of the Millbrook twins during a Cold Case Project interview.
Her mother, Mary “Louise” Sturgis, agreed and softly replied, “Yeah.”
Shanta Sturgis was just a child. Louise was a single mother raising seven kids when her 15-year-old twins went missing March 18, 1990. And since that time, the case has turned cold.
Louise Sturgis said of her missing twins experience, “It’s just like ain’t nothing happening. All we get is hearsay.”
Here are the facts. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office reports on its missing persons page that Dannette and Jeannette Millbrook left their home that day on Cooney Circle to visit with a family friend near 12th Street and MLK Boulevard. The family had recently moved from their home on 12th Street. They were last seen near the 12th Street and MLK Blvd. around 4:30 in the afternoon.
The Cold Case Project retraced their steps that day, based on the Sturgis family’s story. It was a Sunday, 70 degrees and the twins joined their family at Christ Presbyterian Church on Laney Walker Boulevard. Around 2 o’clock that afternoon the girls picked up family dinner and realized, since they recently moved to Cooney Circle, they needed bus fare to make it to Lucy C. Laney High School that week for class. So, they took the 2 mile trek, about a 40 minute walk, from their new home to their old stomping grounds.
“My god dad stayed on Forest Street. That was the first stop they went to. Second stop they went to after they left his house was on 12th Street. We used to live on 12th Street so we knew pretty much all the people that stay over there. We knew this lady named Agnes Jones. We know for sure that she seen them walk past her house. When they walked past her house, they went to Tin Cup Lane, which is where my cousin Juanita stayed at. Juanita couldn’t leave and go with them. They were asking for her to walk home with them. Her mom wouldn’t let her go. They left her house and went to my sister house. My sister lived on Picquet Avenue across from a club called the High Hat. When they left her house, my sister told my mom they went walking toward the Pump and Shop on 12th and MLK. But at the time that they went missing, it was called Milledgeville Road.
The convenience store clerk told NewsChannel 6 many years ago that she sold the twins snacks and saw them leave, unsure of which direction they took.
“We have teenage girls disappearing during the day. We have them disappearing in a busy neighborhood,” Laurah Norton with The Fall Line Podcast told us.
The Fall Line began researching the Millbrook twins case in June of 2017. They have since increased the monetary reward from $10,000 to $11,000, mostly from support from listeners, and will update a nearby billboard with their photos. And like the family, they feel someone in or near that Bethlehem/Laney Walker neighborhood knows something.
“Some of the areas of focus were, of course, the gas station,” Brooke Hargrove, a fellow podcaster on the Fall Line said. “Anyone at the gas station. But a few of the places that the investigator originally went to were the twins’ school and Underwood Homes and all the different places where the twins’ friends hung out. Any of their friends who can think back.
Norton added, “Maybe little stuff that maybe doesn’t’ seem like it directly has to do with their disappearance.
While it was always reported that Dannette and Jeannette vanished from the convenience store on 12th and MLK, new evidence presented in a 2019 Oxygen documentary, revealed they may have been picked up and brought to their father’s home on 3rd Street.
“Every person, without question, who knew the twins have said they would not get into a car with someone they didn’t know,” Hargrove said.
The documentary also indicates a man currently in prison may know pieces of information about that day, claiming a drug party took place at their father’s 3rd Street house and that is where the girls were last seen. It’s news Norton and Hargrove first discovered after writing letters to people connected to the girls’ father, John Millbrook. They immediately handed those letters over to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. The documentary ended with a message that the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office stated the story that man in prison shared was not connected to the Millbrook twins. We learned from family that John Millbrook died in January and because the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office declined to speak about the Millbrook twins case for this story, we do not know whether he was suspected in their disappearance. The girl’s sister said, John Millbrook always acted suspicious, that is until Hargrove spoke with him before he died.
“The first question out her mouth asked him did he know where my sisters were and he said I think they dead,” Shanta Sturgis said of a meeting with Hargrove and John Millbrook.
Several tips followed the documentary. And they are all just pieces to a very big puzzle, such as this one—remember when the twins picked up dinner after church? Sturgis said they came home saying a white van was following them. Shanta Sturgis told us she only remembers one person that could have been and he lived near them on 12th Street.
“A black guy driving a white van,” she said. “I think they called him ‘Raper man Charles.’”
While the family spent decades wondering whether human remains discovered in the Shaws Creek area of Aiken County might be the twins, the Aiken County Corner told us a private examination of those bones ruled out that they might be the Millbrook twins. But the family still has hope that one day Dannette and Jeannette will come home or some closure and justice will happen.
“I also have been talking to a company out in Texas that is supposed to come up with a search party to come down and search the Brickyard. Due to COVID, it’s kind of hard right now,” Shanta Sturgis said.
Anyone with any information about Dannette and Jeannette Millbrook, should call the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 706-821-1000.
For more on the Millbrook twins, watch this bonus interview with Renetta DuBose on Oxygen.
Next time on the Cold Case Project we take you back to 1998 when Rev. James Ivey was killed in his Aiken County business on Jefferson Davis Highway. What his family and law enforcement need to get justice and close the case.