WESTCHESTER SQUARE, The Bronx (PIX11) — The family of missing Shamari Brantley made another 14-hour drive from Wheaton, Ill., to the Bronx Wednesday after getting a tip she may have been lured from a laundromat on Westchester Ave. in recent weeks, by two women and a man utilizing a dark van and black car.
“A black Toyota Camry and a black van,” Chanece Lewis, Brantley’s sister, told PIX11 News. “The detectives are following the lead, and we’re waiting for more information on that tip.”
A woman contacted the family that she spotted a young woman who looked like Shamari Brantley, who has schizophrenia, late at night in the Super Clean Laundromat in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. The laundry is located right under the elevated No. 6 train tracks.
Brantley’s sister recorded her conversation with the tipster, who recalled the young woman talking to two other women.
“She said, ‘I’m hungry,'” the tipster recalled, “so they said, ‘Come with us,’ and she went.”
“Then the guy came out of the van, and then she went with the girl in the van, and the other girl was following in the car,” the tipster later recounted,
Brantley’s mother, Artimece Cotton, was getting weary from the stress of searching for her daughter.
“I’m tired,” the mother said tearfully. “I just want my baby! Release her! Give her back!”
A group of New York-based community groups came out to support Brantley’s family.
Dawn Rowe, the founder of the New York State Task Force on BIPOC Missing and Murdered Women, assisted the family with sleeping accommodations, food and gas money last week.
“When I received a call about Shamari being a vulnerable young woman of color,” Rowe said, “I automatically wanted to step in. No family should have to sleep in their car.”
Bo Deal, a popular music artist based in Chicago, is a cousin to Brantley’s mother.
He made the long drive to garner support from other artists he knows in New York.
“Waka Flocka, he’s like family, and then I know French Montana, a bunch of artists from New York that are going to get behind this,” Deal said. “I’m just trying to bring awareness to this because there’s a lot of people that don’t get attention.”
Chris Gutter, who volunteers with Citizen App, said Brantley’s struggles with mental illness moved him.
“The community is very willing to help when they have mental illness,” Gutter said. “It could be anybody’s family member.”
Gutter said he’d heard of sightings of Brantley on the No. 6 train on New York’s east side of Manhattan, near 96th, 89th and 59th Streets.
Donald Curtis of the Unified Black Caucus contacted the family last week.
“I actually saw her twice in the Fordham Road section,” Curtis said.
Brantley’s mother is hoping new efforts from numerous organizations will help find her daughter, who may be wearing a wig and may not look exactly like the picture on her poster.
“I want her,” Brantley’s mother said. “She means something to me. Please give her back.”