By Claudia Rivero
Family and friends of Akia Eggleston gathered, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, outside the South Baltimore townhouse where the young mom used to live.
Volunteers handed out yellow ribbons and pins with Akia's picture before lighting candles and saying a prayer for the 22-year-old who was eight months pregnant when she vanished on May 3, 2017.
Ann Wilson, Akia's maternal grandmother, was among those who attended the vigil. It's been a difficult time for her family given that a year has passed with no answers as to what happened to her granddaughter. Even worse, her family has not been allowed to see Akia's three-year-old daughter since last July. Wilson says the little girl's father has not responded to the family's multiple attempts to reach him.
It's a lot for one family to endure. Wilson and her husband lost their daughter, Akia's mother, to cancer. Now, their granddaughter and great-grandson are missing and are believed to be the victims of foul play. Add to that the heartache of not being able to see Akia's daughter, Emery.
"The family is keeping her away from us," Wilson said. "I wish I had the answer, I don't know why."
As for the father of Akia's unborn son, the family says he has never reached out to them, has not attended any vigils or made an effort to help search for Akia.
"I've contacted him directly, and I've asked him to call me," Akia's stepfather Shawn Wilkinson said. "I've talked to his brother, and they just say they don't know where he's at. It just makes him look suspicious."
As mentioned in our original story about Akia's disappearance, investigators questioned the father of her unborn baby, but he's not named a suspect in the case.
"They have their suspicions of people they are watching, you know? Ain't none of them ruled out. Nobody," said Wilson.
Frustrated at the lack of answers, the family is relying on friends, the community, and organization's such as the Black and Missing Foundation — a Washington D.C. based nonprofit that helps raise awareness for missing people of color — to keep Akia's story in the public eye.
"We have an anonymous tip line, so if you go to www.bamfi.org, please tell us what happened, and we will not compromise your identity," co-founder Natalie Wilson said.
Wilson and her sister-in-law, Derrica Wilson, have been assisting the family since day one.
"We're utilizing all of our platforms, social media, partnerships with law enforcement and the media to get this story out there," co-founder Derrica Wilson said. "This family is hurting and we want to bring that closure."
For Akia's grandmother the not knowing is unbearable. She hopes the person or people responsible for Akia's disappearance find it in their heart to do the right thing.
"Whoever have her or have done something to her, we need you to come forward because we need some answers and we need closure. Please let her go so she can come home no matter which way it is and no matter what happened. We need closure."
If you have information concerning this case, please contact the FBI's Baltimore Field Office at 410 - 265-8080 or the Baltimore City Police at 410- 396- 2499. There's a $25,000 reward.