The Mysterious 2016 Disappearance Of Lashaya Stine

In the early morning hours of July 15, 2016, 16-year-old Lashaya Nae Stine heard her younger brothers making a ruckus in their bedroom. As reported by The Denver Post, Stine went to the room and told her brothers to go to sleep. She then threatened to tell their mother, Sabrina Jones, if they did not settle down. Stine closed the boys' door behind her, but she did not return to her own room and go to bed. Instead, she left the house and vanished without a trace.

Authorities believe Stine left her Aurora, Colorado, home just after 2:00 a.m. The Charley Project reports the teen did not take her phone charger, wallet, or any clothing — which suggested she planned to return home. Although it has never been confirmed, it is believed that Stine left the house to meet up with an acquaintance or a friend. At 2:23 a.m., a surveillance camera recorded Stine walking alone along the 1600 block of North Peoria Street near a bus stop. According to The Charley Project, the surveillance footage was the last known sighting of the teen.

Sabrina Jones did not realize her daughter was missing until she woke up later that morning. The Denver Post reports Stine had an interview scheduled at Firehouse Subs at 1 p.m., and her mother had planned to take her to that interview. Jones was specifically concerned, as she knew he daughter was looking forward to the interview. It was also worrisome that her daughter left the house without any identification or money.

authorities initially believed Lashaya Stine was a runaway

As reported by Uncovered, Sabrina Jones attempted to call her daughter several times. However, all of the calls went straight to voicemail. As she was growing increasingly concerned for her daughter's safety, Jones contacted the Aurora Police Department to report her missing.

Due to her age, authorities initially believed Lashaya Stine was a runaway. However, The Charley Project reports she did not have a history of running away from home. It has also been noted that Stine was a good student with a very bright future. According to Uncovered, Stine was on the honor roll at George Washington High School. As she planned to become a nurse, she applied for, and was granted, an internship at the University of Colorado Hospital shortly before she went missing.

Authorities believe Stine left the home via her bedroom window, as the window was left open. They also found an overturned flower pot, which appeared to be a makeshift step, on the ground outside the window. As authorities thought Stine may have been a runaway, they did not conduct an in-depth investigation into her disappearance during the first week following her disappearance. However, Uncovered reports her family and friends worked together to bring attention to the teen's disappearance.

In addition to driving through the region looking for Stine, her family and friends spoke with potential witnesses and passed out flyers with the teen's information. Unfortunately, their efforts proved to be fruitless.

Lashaya Stine is still missing

According to Uncovered, the Aurora Police Department did not begin actively investigating Lashaya Stine's disappearance until around July 24, 2016. When Stine was reported missing, then Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz was on vacation. However, as soon as Metz returned, he began an exhaustive campaign to find the missing teen or any information concerning her whereabouts.

CBS News reports the Aurora Police Department questioned residents and business owners in the area where Stine was last seen. They also assembled search and rescue teams, along with law enforcement agencies from neighboring jurisdictions. Volunteers joined the effort to search more secluded areas, including several local parks. As reported by Uncovered, law enforcement officials utilized K9s in their search for the missing teen. They also conducted several stakeouts and assisted Stine's family in making and sharing a video pleading for information about Stine or her possible whereabouts. Unfortunately, no sign of the missing teen was ever found.

In the years following their public plea for information about their daughter's whereabouts, Stine's family received multiple tips concerning possible sightings. Many of the sightings were concentrated in one specific area, which was associated with sex workers and drug abuse.

According to Uncovered, several witnesses reported seeing someone who closely resembled Stine on and around Colfax Avenue. As the area is popular with sex workers, Stine's family believes she may have been abducted by sex traffickers. One tip led authorities to a motel room, where Stine was reportedly being held. 

Lashaya Stine's family believes she is a victim of human trafficking

Unfortunately, by the time authorities arrived the room was empty with the exception of some women's clothing. It is unclear whether authorities were able to verify whether the clothing belonged to Lashaya Stine, as they have not disclosed any test results to the public.

As reported by Uncovered, other witness reported seeing a woman, who strongly resembled Stine, in other states, including Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Some of the tipsters claimed they personally knew Stine and that she was being sexually exploited and trafficked by one particular man. Authorities have not disclosed whether they were able to verify any of the tips. However, The Denver Post reports Sgt. Chris Poppe said most of the sightings were proven to be cases of mistaken identity.

In a 2019 interview with The Denver Post, Sabrina Jones said, "When a child dies and you know, you can start to heal. But when you don't know where she is and what she's going through, you're in a gray area. To me, that's worse than death. What if we never know?"

During the same interview, Lashaya's older brother, Shaeron, said he regrets that he and his sister often argued prior to her disappearance. He also said he regrets that he "wasn't there as much as [he] should have been." Shaeron said he hopes to see his sister again someday and that she will have an opportunity to meet his daughter.