People Under The Age Of 21 The FBI Needs Help Finding

There's a definite sort of tragedy to cold cases – crimes that are surrounded by so much mystery and confusion that they take years to be solved, if they're ever solved at all. Criminals get away scot-free, and there's no closure to any of the victims involved. But that kind of logic doesn't just have to apply to murder cases; it can apply to disappearances just as easily. People have been reported missing, only for investigators to find absolutely nothing, trails and leads going cold, leaving families and friends to just hope that these cases get solved someday.

In some of these cases, the FBI has stepped in to provide assistance, but even then, that's not always enough, and missing persons cases can remain unsolved for years on end. On top of that, quite a few of those cases involve people under the age of 21 – older teenagers, but even toddlers under a year old. With missing persons cases hitting the news and always capturing the attention of the public, the FBI has even released a list of people who fall into that category (via USA Today). That said, there are far, far more victims than that if you search through the FBI's own records. So here's a shortlist of just a few of those victims and the little that's known of their disappearances.

Dulce María Alavez

On September 16, 2019, 5-year-old Dulce María Alavez went to the City Park in Bridgeton, New Jersey, along with her 3-year-old brother and 8-year-old aunt. NBC reports that she was driven there by her mother, Noema Alavez; upon parking the car, the two younger children burst out of the car, ice creams in hand and ready to play. Only 10 minutes later, around 4 p.m., Alavez saw her 3-year-old son crying and alone – he pointed behind a building, saying his sister had disappeared behind it. But Dulce had completely vanished, apparently lured over to a red van by a man wearing orange sneakers and a black t-shirt, and hasn't been seen since.

The FBI spoke with Dulce's father, who is currently believed to live in Mexico, but he's had no contact with his daughter for her entire life. Later reports say he's been cooperating with authorities (per NBC), and according to ABC, in April 2021, he reportedly posted videos of himself online on Dulce's birthday, saying that he had nothing to do with the kidnapping (though those videos were never verified).

There's not much to go on, aside from that. Investigators suspect that this is a crime of opportunity, committed by someone who was "likely there for a period of time," though they have little to go off of aside from a vague description. That said, they do believe she's still alive, because "if she was deceased, something would turn out somewhere," and a new age-progression photo was released in September 2021. 

Melissa Fu

According to the FBI, on November 22, 2019, both 12-year-old Melissa Fu and her mother, Amber Aiaz, went missing under some very bizarre circumstances – so bizarre that investigators initially didn't believe the story told by Fu's stepfather, Cheng Zhang. 

As reported by Spectrum News, Zhang was with Fu in their Irvine home, waiting for Aiaz to return from a regular trip to Las Vegas. But out of the blue, around 4:30pm, an unknown Chinese couple appeared at their door; Zhang went to answer it, felt something sprayed into his face, and was immediately knocked unconscious. When he came to, there was blood on the floor, a bloody handprint on the wall, and both his wife and stepdaughter were gone. A note – presumably left by the kidnappers – told him to act normal, clean the house, and not go to the police. More notes came in over the next week, repeating the same things – though one told him to leave the house for two days, per the LA Times – and saying he would see Fu and Aiaz again. He did as he was told, but after a week, he reported the incident to the police.

Investigators initially suspected Zhang himself, but his story held up too well, and other theories began to emerge. Some believed that Aiaz was responsible, taking her daughter and fleeing the country, though the lack of activity on her bank accounts doesn't support that. Zhang believes organized crime to be involved, and he has good reason. Aiaz reportedly had ties to men who believed she had swindled them, and she regularly lied about having millions of dollars in investments (she'd even convinced her husband of such). It's not too hard to imagine money-troubles playing a part here.

Sunny Sramek

In the case of 19-year-old Sunny Sramek, who went missing on April 20, 2019, the FBI website has very little information to provide. It's all rather barebones. Sramek left from Trenton, Nebraska, supposedly headed to Omaha, in the company of a man (whose name has largely been withheld at the request of law enforcement, per KSNB). She was last seen in a white Ford Explorer, and after her mother reported her missing on April 21, there's just been no trace of her whatsoever.

From that, this unknown man definitely sounds a little fishy, though, again, there isn't a whole lot to go on. As reported by NBC, he was apparently referred to as an "acquaintance" of Sramek's, though the term is pretty ambiguous. He also reportedly called Sramek's mother late on April 20, saying that he had gone inside to a casino in Iowa, only to find that Sramek was no longer in the car when he returned. And then he just left the area after being unable to find her. But maybe that story should be taken with a grain of salt; his story later changed to say that he'd stopped at a gas station, rather than a casino.

Arianna Fitts

The Hoover Institute says San Francisco is more dangerous than 98% of all other cities in the U.S, so it isn't really a shock that the city played host to the disappearance of 2-year-old Arianna Fitts (via FBI).

There isn't a lot of information on the disappearance itself. CBS reported Arianna was last seen sometime in mid-February 2016, and the current belief is that she was staying with babysitters when she disappeared, never to be seen again. But the really strange part came after that. Only a couple of months later, on April 5, Arianna's mother, Nicole Fitts, was also reported missing after being "summoned to meet a person known to her," and having been last seen four days prior. After a few more days, on April 8, her body was found curled up and buried in a shallow grave dug in a nearby park, further covered with a piece of plywood.

It's definitely an odd situation, and many people believe that Arianna's disappearance is somehow connected to her mother's death, but answers haven't been all that forthcoming. No persons of interest have ever been disclosed to the public, nor have any active leads. However, investigators have apparently found some new information – at least, enough information for their searches to have extended outside of the Bay Area, down south to Los Angeles. And although they couldn't go into the specifics, the "Inside the FBI" podcast made it clear that, as of 2021, there was some new "digital and biological" evidence that had revived the case (via NBC).

Myra Lewis

According to Investigation Discovery, the longest active Amber Alert for the state of Mississippi is the one put out for the disappearance of 2-year-old Myra Lewis. The story goes like this: on March 1, 2014, Myra was last seen playing outside of her Camden house with her sister (via CNN) when her mother, Ericka Ledger, was leaving to go to the store. However, Myra's father, Gregory Lewis, never saw his daughter. No one did, after that moment.

Per CBS, the disappearance happened sometime before noon but wasn't actually reported until approximately 4 p.m., as the family had conducted their own search before going to the authorities. And if that sounds a little suspicious, well, WAPT News reported that everyone who had any contact with Myra that day was being looked at as a suspect – family members, included.

That said, actual theories and leads seem pretty scarce. Investigators did believe that Myra was still in the local area, but wide searches of the area didn't turn up anything concrete, and the tips that came in didn't ultimately go anywhere. One theory posited that Myra had been hit by an SUV, but the car in question was examined and found not to be related at all. WLBT also reported that she had supposedly been sighted in Memphis – an apparent lead, except that further investigation also proved that to be a dead end.

Kaylah Hunter and Christian Justice

In some of these unsolved missing persons cases being investigated by the FBI, there's a murder aspect. In some cases, the whole situation is mysterious, and there are questions surrounding both the murders and the disappearances. But the case of Kaylah Hunter and Christian Justice is a little different.

According to the FBI, both 6-year-old Kaylah and 8-month-old Christian were last seen on May 24, 2014, having disappeared from Detroit. But, according to CBS, the childrens' mother, Alicia Fox, was also reported missing at the same time. Her body was found in June, shortly after all three had been officially reported missing, decomposing, wrapped in a blanket, and dumped in an abandoned home; she'd been killed by two shots to the head (via CBS). Fox's husband, Erin Justice, was arrested for the murder (in Atlanta, for some reason that's even police didn't understand at the time), charged, and found guilty.

But questions still circle around the whole situation: even though the murder was solved, where were the two kids? Police felt pretty certain that Justice was also involved in their disappearance – and thus knew where they were – but given the time that's passed, that's clearly not the case. Other witnesses reported seeing a U-Haul truck outside the house around the same time, and a tip said that the children might've been buried in the backyard of a nearby home. But investigations – and some thorough digging – proved that tip to be off-base.

Kyron Horman

The disappearance of 7-year-old Kyron Horman Skyline Elementary School in Portland on June 4, 2010, resulted in Oregon's largest-ever search for a missing person. Per The Oregonian, huge swaths of land were covered by volunteers and search-and-rescue crews over multiple days (and multiple weekends), only to come up empty.

Early that morning, Kyron was seen with his stepmother, Terri Moulton Horman, at the school science fair. Reportedly, she saw him walking to his classroom as she left the campus, but Kyron was marked absent from that class ... and from every other class that day. His disappearance was first noticed when he didn't get off the bus later that afternoon. He hasn't been seen since, and Kyron's mother Desiree Young has said, "It's like a portal opened up in the school and Kyron just vanished into it."

That said, there's a definite person of interest in this case: Terri Moulton Horman. According to KGW, there's a lot of strange, circumstantial evidence. Reports say she was oddly "cheery and upbeat" on that day, and she apparently couldn't quite remember her whereabouts for that day. She failed two different polygraph tests regarding the incident (via Unsolved Magazine) and had some strangely-timed meetings with some friends (whose potential parts in this plot have also become rather suspicious threads to follow). And that's not counting the apparent marital issues, which, while technically circumstantial, do raise some eyebrows. Young has said that she suspects Horman of being complicit in the crime, though no charges have ever been brought.

Lina Sardar Khil

While the FBI has missing persons cases dating back decades, always hoping for that one tip that might crack the case wide open, obviously not all of these incidents are that old. The disappearance of 3-year-old Lina Sardar Khil, for example, only happened near the end of 2021.

According to ABC, on December 20, Lina was at a park with her mother near their home in San Antonio. Late in the afternoon, Lina's mother lost sight of her for a little while; sometime between 4:30 and 5:10, she realized that Lina had completely disappeared. The police and FBI searched an expanding area while the community rallied around the family, asking for more information on what Lina had been wearing in an attempt to help find her. But by January 5, the FBI ended its search, having found no traces of where Lina had gone.

Per ABC, as of January 18, the San Antonio police have said that they're continuing to look into leads, but given that it's very much still an active case, they weren't at liberty to share any real details with the public. Meanwhile, Lina's mother, Zarmeena Sardar Khil, has spoken to the press, saying that, despite coming from a different culture, "What we have in common is the pain of motherhood as a human, is the same as all people" (via Fox). She shared her pain and guilt, then spoke to her daughter, telling her that they all were "trying [their] best to get [her] back home."

Daniela Moreno

In the years since the disappearance of 8-year-old Daniela Moreno and her mother Liliana on May 30, 2016, family members have become frustrated with the lack of leads, to say the least (via CBS). And while that's really not all too surprising, there's a very specific reason in this case.

As the Miami Herald reported, police were first alerted to both the missing mother and daughter after Daniela had been absent from school for the past week. Upon investigating, they learned that there had been no activity from Liliana's bank account, but the house had also been left completely untouched. The door was locked, the car was in the driveway, and Liliana's purse was found inside. NBC even adds that food was still set up, as if in preparation for a meal. They seemed to just vanish, having reportedly been last seen by Daniela's father, Gustavo Castano, who drove them to Home Depot.

But Castano is also a pretty suspicious person of interest. His relationship with Liliana was best described as "stormy" by friends and family, and he reportedly threatened her. Stranger still, shortly after the disappearance, in June, Castano was found in the parking lot of that same Home Depot, trying to stab and poison himself. Details beyond that aren't forthcoming, though, as police haven't gone so far as to name him as a suspect, and the FBI has even put out a new reward for any information. (That said, the family of the victims do believe him to be responsible.)

Amina Kandil and Belel Kandil

In many of these missing persons cases, there's very little information to go off of. Kids have just disappeared into thin air, leaving investigators without a single clue or person of interest. At the same time, though, having a person of interest doesn't necessarily imply that investigators can find the missing person, and in the case of Amina and Belel Kandil, even when the authorities have a pretty good idea of what's happened, that doesn't mean that the situation has been fixed.

According to the FBI's website, 10-year-old Amina and 8-year-old Belel were both living in James City County, Virginia, raised by their separated parents, who shared joint custody of the two kids. In late August, they were living with their mother, but on August 29, 2014, their father Ahmed Abdallah Taha Kandil picked both of them up, telling his ex-wife that he would be taking them out of town to visit his sister (via FBI). That's a far cry from what happened, though. As reported by ABC, all three were last seen on August 30, boarding a flight to Boryspil, Ukraine, at John F. Kennedy International Airport. From there, they boarded another flight, this time headed to Ataturk, Turkey.

And that's pretty much where the story is at for now. The FBI doesn't actually know exactly where any of them are, only speculating that they're somewhere in Egypt (Kandil holds dual citizenship in Egypt and the U.S. and is now wanted for "international parental kidnapping") or Turkey.