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Case of missing twins reopened

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 10:39 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 12:35 AM
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It’s been 23 years since Dannette and Jeannette Millbrooks, 16-year-old fraternal twins, disappeared without a trace, but their younger sister never gave up hope, eventually prompting Richmond County investigators to reopen the case.

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Shanta Sturgis and her mother, Mary, speak with reporters regarding the case of 15-year-old fraternal twins who went missing in 1990.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Shanta Sturgis and her mother, Mary, speak with reporters regarding the case of 15-year-old fraternal twins who went missing in 1990.


“Twins don’t just go missing,” Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Tuesday. “One person may go missing but not twins. Sixteen-year-olds don’t have the means (to leave).”

The sheriff’s office released age progression photos Tuesday of what the 39-year-olds might look like today.

Shanta Sturgis was 12 years old when her sisters walked out of their Cooney Drive home for the last time on March 18, 1990. She remembers lying on the couch, crying and begging to go with them, but they promised they’d be back soon. By evening, she and her family were frantically searching.

The twins had walked to a friend’s home at 12th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard and were last seen in the area after leaving the home. Both were freshmen at Lucy C. Laney High School at the time.

The family tried to remain hopeful in the hours and days after the disappearance, but the twins were not the type to run away, Sturgis said.

Dannette suffered from seizures, but her medication was left behind.

“Knowing her condition, there’s no way she would have run away from home,” Sturgis said.

Their mother, Mary Sturgis, said the news that the case had been closed on their 17th birthday in April 1991 was devastating. Roundtree said it appeared that someone reported the girls’ return. The case was closed, but a final report was never filed.

Even though she was young, Shanta Sturgis could see the pain her mother was facing while juggling the rearing of her remaining eight children.

“My mom did a pretty good job raising us after the fact,” she said. “I knew she was sad. She would go in her room and close the door. She got so discouraged.”

When Shanta Sturgis was older she began her own quest to find her sisters. When the requests for the sheriff’s office to reopen the case went unanswered, Sturgis began searching for other ways. She looked on the Internet to see if their names appeared. She contacted the FBI and even Oprah Winfrey and John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted, but no one offered help.

“When you don’t have the help you want, you just start to give up,” she said. “It’s just hard to not know.”

Earlier this year, she contacted Roundtree, who asked investigators to look into the case. Sturgis said Maj. Scott Peebles called to say the unsettling matter of the case being closed on “hearsay” prompted investigators to reopen it.

“We have found absolutely no traces based on Social Security numbers, date of birth or names,” Roundtree said. “But miracles do happen.”

The sheriff’s office began working with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children to get photos of what the twins could look like today.

“It was scary,” Shanta Sturgis said of the first time she saw the age progression photos. “I was like what if I’ve seen these people before and didn’t realize it was them.”

Now the more she looks at the photo of Jeannette, the more she sees herself.

The family said news of every abduction, discovery of remains and recent cases – such as the July arrest of Michael Madison in Cleveland, Ohio, for the death of three women – brings back haunting memories.

Her sisters’ disappearance has resulted in Shanta Sturgis’ own fears for her five children, who are constantly reminded of the dangers.

She said she tells her daughter: “You could be here one day and the next day be gone.”

or bianca.johnson@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (8) Add comment
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corgimom
38742
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:48 am
7
10
What on Earth is PATERNAL

What on Earth is PATERNAL twins????

Twins that are FATHERS???

There is no such thing as PATERNAL twins!

Augustaisdying
526
Points
Augustaisdying 08/13/13 - 10:10 am
1
2
Same "journalist"
Unpublished

who wrote the yellow journalism hack job article on the 15-yr-old with the boo boo under his eye.

Terrible.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/13/13 - 07:17 pm
5
3
Pointing out an embarrassing error

doesn't constitute a policy violation justifying removal of my legitimate comment.

If you don't like having your errors pointed out, do a better job of proofreading your copy, and get rid of spellcheck and auto-correct.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 08/13/13 - 08:28 pm
7
2
Certainly, the paternal,
Unpublished

Certainly, the paternal, maternal, fraternal issue should not override recognizing the anguish this family has suffered. Hopefully, some answers can be dredged up after all this time.

cruiser93
270
Points
cruiser93 08/14/13 - 02:21 am
7
2
I agree

I agree palmetto, It's kind of ignorant to make that what you comment on considering the subject matter.
That said, I think that it could (sadly) be that they were both abducted. Who says that a crazy sadistic perverted person or persons could not do that ?
My sympathies to the family and friends and I hope that, if they are still alive that one day soon they will be reunited. This is very sad either way

soapy_725
44144
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:12 am
0
0
Cooney Drive? Mom had 10. Daughter has three. News????
Unpublished

Cooney Drive? Mom had 10. Daughter has three. News????

soapy_725
44144
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:13 am
0
0
More lost souls from the AA community. Somebody do something.
Unpublished

More lost souls from the AA community. Somebody do something.

soapy_725
44144
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:14 am
0
0
How about train your children to do what is RIGHT. GODLY.
Unpublished

How about train your children to do what is RIGHT. GODLY.

soapy_725
44144
Points
soapy_725 08/14/13 - 07:16 am
0
0
Travon-esk Journalism. Ride that wave AC. Ride that wave.
Unpublished

Travon-esk Journalism. Ride that wave AC. Ride that wave.

GnipGnop
12747
Points
GnipGnop 08/14/13 - 01:26 pm
3
1
Whoever closed the case

because of hearsay should be fired if they are still with the department!

Sean Moores
702
Points
Sean Moores 08/14/13 - 01:27 pm
2
0
@ fiat 8:17

I removed that because you insulted the reporter. Don't insult reporters or other commenters and I won't remove your comments. Be respectful.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/16/13 - 06:38 pm
0
0
Whatever.

What. Ever.

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