A Georgia woman says the law enforcement agency that admittedly screwed up the investigation into her twin sisters’ disappearance is once again causing her family undue heartache.
“We are being traumatized all over again,” Shanta Sturgis told HuffPost.
She said Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree, who in 2013 discovered his agency had mistakenly closed the investigation and lost the case file, has not followed through on a promise he made to her at the time.
“He’s not spoke with us one time since then,” she said. “I now think it was all talk ― that he did all that for publicity.”
Sturgis’ sisters, 16-year-old fraternal twins Dannette and Jeannette Millbrook, disappeared without a trace on March 18, 1990, while walking home from a convenience store in Augusta. The twins had no prior history of running away and no record of behavioral problems.
Roundtree, in an August 2013 interview with HuffPost, acknowledged the case was mistakenly closed just 3 years after it was opened and said no one had looked into it for roughly 20 years.
“We think a terrible injustice has been done,” Roundtree said then.
Sturgis said she’d initially thought Roundtree was a godsend. She was 12 when her sisters disappeared and had been fighting since 2004 to get the sheriff’s office to look into it. She said she was ecstatic when Roundtree, who was newly appointed in 2013, agreed to do so.
“We finally had hope,” Sturgis said.
Sturgis said that now, along with not hearing from Roundtree, investigators at the sheriff’s office won’t return her calls.
Neither Roundtree or the criminal investigation department responded to a request for comment from HuffPost.
Sturgis is not the only one complaining about the sheriff’s office.
Brooke Hargrove, one of the producers of The Fall Line Podcasts, which is intended to raise awareness about the twins’ disappearance, said the group hasn’t been able to get the sheriff’s office to participate in the program.
She said an investigator agreed to meet with them after the podcast producers uncovered new leads, but on the condition that they not discuss the case.
We “were not allowed to ask any questions,” Hargrove told HuffPost. “We were told the family could attend, but only if they asked no questions.”
However, prior to the start of the meeting, authorities allegedly added another condition.
“The twins’ mother, Mary “Louise” Sturgis, was made to [sit] in the waiting room,” Hargrove said. “She has never met with the police at the station about her missing daughters in the 27 years since they disappeared.”
Roundtree in 2013 told HuffPost he’d interviewed the original investigator, who had retired, and ran a nationwide search for the twins, which came up negative.
Sturgis said she questions whether any of that was actually done.
“I’ve tried to talk to him several times and he just won’t respond,” she said.
Sturgis is now pinning her hopes on the possibility of the podcast garnering new leads in the case.
“The [podcasters] have uncovered a lot of things that should’ve been looked into,” she said. “One is that there was a serial killer back then killing and raping all these women in same area where we lived and we didn’t know nothing about that.”
Sturgis added, “The cops sure aren’t doing nothing, so maybe somebody who can help will hear our story and reach out.”
“I now think it was all talk – that he did all that for publicity.” Shanta Sturgis
You can listen to the podcast on iTunes. Four episodes are currently available, with more to come.
At the time of their disappearance, Dannette was approximately 5 feet six inches, 130 pounds, and Jeannette was approximately 5 feet 4 inches, 125 pounds. They both attended ninth grade at Lucy Laney High School.
Anyone with any information about the disappearance of Dannette and Jeannette Millbrook is asked to contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 821-1080 or the office’s crimes investigators at (706) 821-1020.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Dannette and Jeannette’s last name.