Black History Month: Emmanuel Kalief Birts

February is Black History Month. I got the idea to use the month to showcase some of the African-American MPs on the Charley Project. I thought maybe I should focus on the cases that didn’t get a lot of media attention, but that would be practically all of them — black missing people, and black crime victims in general, really tend to get ignored by the mainstream media.

Anyway, this blog is going to profile one missing black person per day for the entire month of February. The first is little Emmanuel Kalief Birts, who was abducted from his mother’s Dallas, Texas home on September 14, 1989, at the age of just five weeks.

The woman who took him claimed to be a social worker named Debra Manning and she was nothing if not brazen: she actually visited Emmanuel’s house and spoke with his family a total of FOUR TIMES.

The first time was on September 12, when she told them Emmanuel needed to be tested for HIV. “Manning” returned on September 13 with a letter, supposedly from the Child Welfare Department, that authorized her to take the baby away for testing. His mom, Kisha, wanted to go along, so “Manning” made an excuse and said she’d be back the next day. The next day she showed up, but didn’t have a car seat, so she said she’d go and get one. She came back with the car seat, whisked Emmanuel away and never returned.

The case made the local papers in Dallas, but quickly dropped out of the public eye, and I haven’t found anything in the news since 1990. He did eventually get added to NamUs, but only in 2014, and he wasn’t put on the NCMEC until sometime after that.

Both of Emmanuel’s parents have since tested negative for HIV. There’s no reason to believe he isn’t still alive out there, perhaps even still in Dallas, living his life with no idea he’s a missing person. He would now be 28 years old.

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