MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — It'd been about a month and one holiday since she'd seen or heard from her older sister when Makayla Blackwell recorded herself singing a song she'd wrote, expressing the love she had for her.
Makayla sang about the pain their mom was going through. She sang she'd give her own life in exchange for her sister's. Nearly 5,000 people watched the 9-year-old's video, posted to the Finding Lakira "Pigg" Goldsmith Facebook page.
Two months later and another holiday missed, Makayla posted another video. Her 3-year-old nephew, she sang, "He has to live his life without his mom." About 7,000 people listened.
Outside of these video views and the every day reminder posts by Marchelle Goldsmith that her daughter is still gone, Lakira's disappearance a year ago has garnered little attention. It went unreported by Montgomery outlets until recently. Leads reported to Montgomery police have gone nowhere. Until last month, her case information hadn't been uploaded to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NamUs, which enables people from around the country to know the circumstances around those deemed missing.
Lakira, who went missing Nov. 27, 2018, is still not listed on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency site, although two other Montgomery women, Keyquanna Burton and Donna Calloway, who went missing after Lakira, are.
Nine months, several holidays and both their birthdays later, Makayla is still waiting on the day when the words in her songs are no longer true. Other children at school have bullied her, enduring the taunts that her big sister is no longer alive. Goldsmith has endured the same claims, in the forms of recordings and messages from various people sent to her inbox.
The recent abduction and subsequent murder of Aniah Blanchard has intensified her pain, and her confusion. Why aren't more people looking for her daughter? Both young, African American women deeply loved by their families — albeit one a college student from a middle class home and the other a teen mom who dropped out of high school.
Though, Blanchard's family's tragedy might help bring Goldsmith's need for answers to an end.
During the search for Blanchard, the Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team learned about Lakira's case. They now want to help in the search for her.
"In light of information we received, while assisting in the search efforts to find precious Aniah, our Texas Equusearch Midwest/Ohio Team, will be returning to Alabama shortly, to now assist Law Enforcement, in the search efforts to help locate Lakira “Pigg” Goldsmith," an EquuSearch employee posted.
The nonprofit was founded by the father of Laura Miller following her abduction and murder in 1984.
Dave Rader, director for the Midwest chapter of EquuSearch, whose team searched for Blanchard for 13 days and came within a quarter mile of her remains, said he has been working with MPD investigators to identify a time and place to search for Lakira.
At this point, however, Montgomery Police Capt. Regina Duckett said, “There have been no new leads or developments that would define a search area.”
Despite the lack of Lakira's listing in databases accessible to the public, Duckett said she was listed as a missing person in the National Crime Information Center and the department has requested information regarding her whereabouts through Crime Stoppers twice.
"MPD has investigated and will continue to investigate any and all leads but at this time her whereabouts remain unknown," Duckett said.
The last time Goldsmith saw her eldest child was the day before Thanksgiving in 2018. A "Facebook queen," Lakira's absence on social media was the first indication that something was wrong. She was headed to a friend's home she often stayed at in the north Montgomery neighborhood of Newtown. It is from there, Goldsmith believes, someone took her daughter.
"I find myself questioning God every day, asking why me? Why my child? It's so hard to keep the faith (when) someone that you love so much can just get snatched away from you and you don't know what's going on," she posted five months into Lakira's disappearance.
That love is rooted in Lakira's kind and outgoing personality.
"She’s a very friendly person," her mother said. “She could walk in a room and light up the room. She tried to help anybody. She tried to make everyone like her. She’s just a sweet and caring person — always wanted to look out for others, even when she was sick. She has severe asthma and it’d be hard for her to breathe most of the time, but she didn’t let that stop her.”
Based off different tips she's received, Goldsmith said she's conducted searches along Birmingham Highway, Highway 80 near Hope Hull and in Newtown twice.
"It's real frustrating, but I have to follow all the leads and I give them all to the police because you never know, there could be some truth in one of them," she said.
Wearing the face of a woman deeply hurt and overwhelmed — previously having zero experience in how to investigate a missing person's case — Goldsmith said she gets messages every day. She evaluates each while raising her two other children and Lakira's son, Armani.
"Every day is a nightmare," she said. "Every day I break down."
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Lakira Goldsmith, please call MPD Det. Stokes at 334-625-3846 or contact Equusearch at 513-503-3706.