The Lost Children of Southwest Georgia
July 8, 2007, is a day that will forever haunt Shellie Auchtang.
Nearly seven years ago, Auchtang's daughter went missing and the case is still unsolved.
'A piece of me is gone forever, and it could never be replaced," says Auchtang.
Just two days after Shellie's 40th birthday, her daughter, Brandi Cole went missing.
Auchtung says, "she was suppose to come over on July 6th to spend the evening and the night with me and her daughter...well she never showed up."
According to reports from the Tift County Sheriff's Office, then 17-year-old Brandi Natasha Cole was reported missing.
According to www.missingkids.com, nearly 800,000 children younger than 18 are reported missing, and more than 200,000 of those kids were abducted by their own family members. Ryan Carmichael with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Office in Atlanta says the most common way kids go missing are runaways.
Agent Carmichael says, "anytime a child goes missing, they need to be found and returned home as soon as possible." .
Carmichael says, when it comes to cases like the one in Tifton, urgency is key.
"Often times you want to get on the information very quickly so you don't lose information as you go forward. GBI coordinates the states Levi Call or Amber Alert and if there was a request for activation from the agency we may become involved in that way even if the agency is handling the investigation on their own," says Agent Carmichael.
Auchtang says, "her little girl has a hard thing to digest when she gets a little older."
Cole's daughter was just two-years-old when her mom never came home, and now Auchtang says having to explain where she may be, or what happened is a day she dreads.
"Her little girl is now eight and she's having a few problems with wanting to know what happened to her mom and I don't have the answers for her. She's too young to understand what's going on. She asked me, Grandma, what really happened to my mommy, because there's kids that been making fun of her because she don't have a mom."
It's now been six years since Cole's disappearance and with each increasing day, she says the pain never subsides.
"If I lost her in a car wreck or something like that, at least I'd still have what was left and I'd know what happened to her and what she endured, where she lay, I don't know what my little girl went through," says Auchtang.
Cole has hazel eyes, weights about 145 pounds, and is about 5 feet, four inches tall. Officials say she may still be in Tifton or in Mount Olive, North Carolina. If you have any information about her whereabouts, contact the Tift County Sheriff's Office.