By: Claudia Rivero
Shy'Kemmia "ShyShy" Pate will turn 27 on October 29, 2016. If she's out there somewhere, her mother, Veronica Pate, wants ShyShy to know how much she loves and misses her. The sadness and frustration at the lack of answers, palpable in Veronica's voice as we spoke recently about her little girl, the youngest of her four children.
ShyShy has missed birthday celebrations, holidays, graduations and time with her siblings and cousins. The pain of not knowing what happened to her daughter is often too much for Veronica to bear. She struggles with depression and anxiety and feels that time does not always heal all wounds. "I don't have any closure, and I miss my child so much. It's a feeling that I don't wish on anybody," Veronica said.
September 4, 1998
It was about 7 p.m. on September 4, 1998, Shy-Shy was walking to her friend's house on Crumpler Avenue in the town of Unadilla in Dooley County, Georgia, when she suddenly vanished. "My older daughter left her alone for a few minutes to go get gas because they were going to a football game, and when she returned ShyShy was gone," Veronica said.
Convinced the 8-year-old was kidnapped by someone ShyShy knew well, investigators questioned everyone in the neighborhood. According to published reports, police also followed up on countless leads, including several in multiple states, but none panned out and the case remains unsolved.
It's hard to believe that no one saw anything, especially in a neighborhood Veronica describes as a place where everyone knew each other. Even though it's been 18 years, she's still hopeful that her daughter will be found alive. "After so many years without any answers...that tells me that I gotta believe she's still out there. I feel in my heart that she's still out there, and I want her to know that I love her and will continue to look for her," Veronica said.
On September 3, Veronica and her family will hold a 5K run/walk to raise money for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as part of the organization's Rock One Sock campaign to raise awareness for missing children. Part of the money raised will also be used to increase the reward for information that helps investigators solve Shy-Shy's case.
The FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Governor's Office are offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to Shy'Kemmia "Shy-Shy" Pate's safe return. Please call (478) 987-4545 or the Dooley County Sheriff's office at 229-645-0920 if you can help.
Claudia Rivero Investigative Reporter/Producer