May 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

'A part of me is missing,' says heartbroken mother

Lack of answers has been frustrating for relatives of Derrell Sims, who was 21 when he disappeared from Detroit's east side Dec. 11, 2011.

After Christmas shopping that day, he drove his mother's Pontiac Grand Am to his best friend's home on Cherest, near Seven Mile.

Derrell Sims never returned. Leitha Sims' car was found the next day near Minnesota and Anglin, just blocks away from the friend's home, said his sister, Victoria Sims.

"It wasn't even parked right — it was like they pulled up and jumped out."

Calls to both of Sims' cell phones went to voicemail. No one saw or heard from him — not even his fiancee, who was nearly seven months pregnant.

Panicked, his family searched the neighborhood and elsewhere, but found nothing. Leitha Sims said besides serving time in juvenile detention for helping to steal a car as a teen, her son was not involved in criminal activity. He dropped out of high school but earned his GED as well as certification in custodianship and landscaping, she said.

"My son was a real loving person. He would give anybody anything," Leitha Sims said. "He wasn't a bad kid. I think he was just hanging with the wrong crowd."

Since his disappearance, Sims has missed celebrations for Christmas, school outings for his 6-year-old daughter and the birth of his son, Derrell Sims Jr. Relatives this year threw a birthday bash and put together a DVD of photos, entertaining themselves with stories of the man who loved wisecracking and wearing Polo hats.

Constantly worried about her firstborn son, Leitha Sims said she has lost weight and often cannot sleep. She is considering finding a support group to help cope with overwhelming emotions that emerge from merely briefly glimpsing a photo of him on her refrigerator.

"Any little thing might trigger me off and have me sad even if I might have been happy," she said. "A part of me is missing. … I miss him."

mhicks@detroitnews.com

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