Michigan House panel considers ban on mobile phone use while driving

Detroit woman’s family seek tips in disappearance

Mark Hicks

For Nicole Harris’ family, holiday gatherings and festivities have been noticeably more subdued this year.

The Detroit grandmother of 10 has been missing from her east-side home for two weeks — leaving relatives mystified and worried. Now, as more time passes and the 54-year-old’s absence lingers, they and city police are seeking help from the public to find answers.

“It would mean the world to us to know where she’s at,” said her daughter, LaJoi White. “She never did this before. We’re just holding our breath every moment, every day.”

White last spoke with her mother on Dec. 13. Their phone conversation revolved around the joint birthday party Harris attended two days earlier for her grandsons.

“She was her normal self,” her daughter recalled.

But subsequent calls went unanswered and Harris wasn’t at her home on the 4300 block of Pennsylvania when relatives stopped by later. The mother of three also failed to show at the nearby Salvation Army where she recently started bell-ringing or retrieve her paycheck there, White said.

Even more troubling: she missed Christmas, her favorite holiday. “She’s the one who helps me wrap up all the gifts and get all the grocery shopping and clean the house,” her daughter said. “It was real jacked up for me because she wasn’t there.”

White has filed a missing person’s report with the Fifth Precinct.

Police are continuing to investigate the case, said Officer Dan Donakowski, a spokesman for the department, on Tuesday.

But with each passing day, her family’s fears rise. Since Harris has been diagnosed as bipolar and takes medication, “I’m just worried about her well-being and others’, too,” White said. “We don’t know if she’s in a house somewhere or somebody did something to her.”

For now, White and her cousins have been continually canvassing the area, trudging through streets and seeking clues. They also plan to post fliers and spread the word via social media.

As the month draws to a close, the family vows to keep searching at all costs.

“What’s been going through my mind is: ‘Where is she?’ ” White said.

Harris is described as African-American, 5-foot-6, with a slim build, medium brown complexion, dark brown short hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Detroit Police Department Seventh Precinct’s Investigative Unit at (313) 596-5740. Anonymous tips can also be submitted through Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.