The search continues for Aaliyah Ramirez, a 14-year-old girl from Syracuse, Indiana, who disappeared on her way to the bus stop on April 27, 2021. She never made it to school and never returned home.
Nearly three weeks have passed without any sign of the teen and her family told Dateline they are worried.
“I just want my daughter back home,” Aaliyah’s father, Anthony Ramirez, told Dateline. “I want her found safe.”
Video footage from a doorbell camera at the apartment building where she lives with her father and younger sisters captured images of Aaliyah minutes before her disappearance.
Anthony told Dateline that everything was fine with his daughter and that he has no reason to think she would have run away.
“It was a totally normal day,” he said, adding that the night before, Aaliyah had called him into her room excited to talk to him about something she had seen in the news regarding a UFC fighter who had been injured just days prior.
The next day she was gone.
Anthony, who works as a traveling welder, told Dateline it wasn’t until later that afternoon that he got a call that his daughter never showed up to school.
There were theories that the 14-year-old was a runaway, but Anthony said he believes someone has taken his daughter.
“As a father, I just knew something was wrong,” he said. “She’s in trouble and we need to get her home safe.”
The day after Aaliyah went missing, a statewide Silver Alert was declared by the Syracuse Police Department, and remains in effect three weeks later. Syracuse dispatcher Michelle Hyden directed Dateline to the latest release on Aaliyah’s disappearance, which states that authorities believe the teen to be in danger.
Syracuse police officials told NBC affiliate WPTV that Aaliyah may be heading to Marion, Indiana, or Palm Beach County, Florida, where she has family. Her father also believes she may be in Florida and being held against her will.
Aaliyah’s mother, Ashli Aspy, who lives about two hours away in Hartford City, Indiana told Dateline that their family dynamic is complicated and there have been accusations, but she hopes what she says are upcoming polygraph tests being done by the police will clear up the drama.
Ashli recalls the last time she saw her daughter on the Sunday before she went missing.
“It was a really good day,” she said. “We got pedicures and manicures, went thrifting at Goodwill, and went out to lunch.”
Ashli described Aaliyah as being outgoing and silly while at home with people she was comfortable with, but could be shy and quiet around strangers. After being homeschooled for years, Aaliyah began going to public school and had really excelled, her mother added, getting all As on her last report card.
When she isn’t focused on her schoolwork, the teen spends her time at the dance studio. Her favorite type of dance is contemporary, her mother said. Aaliyah took lessons for years and became serious about it in third or fourth grade.
In the weeks following Aaliyah’s disappearance, members of the Syracuse community, including dance teachers and fellow dance students, have flooded social media with support in an effort to get the word out. The hashtag #FindAaliyahRamirez has trended on TikTok and other social media platforms as people continue to share her story.
“That’s what we need to focus on right now,” Anthony told Dateline. “We need to focus on finding Aaliyah and bringing her home safe. Then we can deal with those responsible. But I just need her to be found.”
Her father told Dateline that his daughter spent a lot of her time with dance lessons, but that they also spent time together riding mini bikes and fishing from his bass boat.
“Our message to her, if she’s reading this, is that her family loves her and wants her back home,” he said. “We just want to make sure she’s OK. We miss her.”
Aaliyah is described as being 5’9” inches tall and weighing about 138 lbs. She has black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a black zip-up jacket, gray and white sweatpants, and a purple Nike backpack.
If you have any information on Aaliyah’s whereabouts, contact the Syracuse Police Department at 574-267-5667.