Let’s talk about it: Zaylee Fryar

Zaylee Grace Fryar would have turned seven years old in January, assuming she’s still alive. She’s been missing from Millersville, Tennessee since the age of three and a half months.

Late in the evening May 1, 2011, Zaylee’s mom, Shauna Fryar, took her out, supposedly to go to the store, but probably to buy drugs. Shauna can’t have planned to stay out long, because she left everything behind, including Zaylee’s diaper bag — I’m given to understand that’s a kind of essential item when you’re dealing with an infant. In any case, mother and daughter never returned.

(I need to insert a word here about Shauna’s domestic situation: she was married and the mother of eight children, but most of them, including Zaylee, weren’t her husband’s. They both saw other people and were on more of a friendship basis with each other. Shauna’s husband was at the hospital when Zaylee was born, and invited them to crash at his place as they were homeless. Zaylee’s biological father was in jail at the time Shauna and Zaylee disappeared.)

Five days later, Shauna’s body was pulled out of the Cumberland River in Nashville, less than twenty miles south of Millersville. For a very long time the cops had nothing to say about her death, the cause, anything. It wasn’t until 2015 that they finally disclosed she’d been the victim of a homicide and they thought she’d been killed in Millersville and dumped in Nashville. They also said they had suspects. They haven’t said anything more since then.

So what happened to Zaylee? No one appears to know.

Usually, in circumstances like these, the women are killed FOR their babies. Andre Bryant‘s is a good example of that; two women lured his mom away with him, killed her and vanished with the baby. In homicides where the woman just happens to have her baby with her, the killers tend to either leave alive it at the crime scene or abandon it alive somewhere. (I’ve got a couple of cases where women have disappeared and their babies turned up abandoned: Norma Morales, Kimberly Palmer, etc. I tend to assume if that happens there’s a very good chance the woman is dead.) Rarely do they also kill the baby; I mean, it’s not like it would be able to testify against them in court.

Shauna’s drug habit and the circumstances of her disappearance would seem to indicate her murder was probably drug-related, but I have no idea whether there’s any actual evidence to support this because, like I said, the police haven’t said much. It’s possible Shauna was killed for an entirely different reason. But even if it was a drug-related homicide, that doesn’t mean Zaylee isn’t still out there, perhaps having been sold for drugs. I mean, she was adorable, and healthy infants do have some street value.

Sadly, I think it’s also possible she could have been put in the Cumberland River with her mother. Three-month-old girls tend to weigh only 12 to 14 pounds. A body that size would be easy to miss.

So what do you think happened to Zaylee? Is it likely that she’s still alive? Let’s talk about it.

Finally some activity in the Shauna/Zaylee Fryar case

I wrote about missing baby Zaylee Fryar last summer. She vanished without a trace in 2011, along with her mother, Shauna Fryar. Shauna was found dead in a river several days later, but there was no sign of Zaylee. Well, after nearly four years the police have finally disclosed some information about the mother’s death: namely, that it was a homicide and they think she was killed in Millersville, Tennessee (the town she and Zaylee lived in and vanished from) and then taken to Nashville, Tennessee and dumped there. They haven’t disclosed the cause of death or much other information.

The local authorities are blaming the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for losing some records. The TBI claims they gave the records to the local LE. Shrug. There are two suspects in the case, neither of whom have been publicly named. Zaylee’s father is presumably not one of them as he was in jail when Shauna was killed.

Shauna’s death left one child missing and six others without a mother. I can only hope that Zaylee is still alive. She turned four years old on the 14th of last month.


MP of the week: Zaylee Fryar

This missing person’s case of the week is Zaylee Grace Fryar, who at three months is perhaps the youngest MP of the week I’ve ever done. (Don’t quote me on that though.) Zaylee disappeared with her mother, Shauna, from Millersville, Tennessee on May 1, 2011. Less than a week later, Shauna’s body was pulled from a local river. It was so badly decomposed they never determined the cause of death, and they’re not sure if it was a murder or what. No sign of Zaylee. I should note that neither Shauna’s husband or Zaylee’s father are suspects in Shauna’s death or the baby’s disappearance.

This is a very mysterious and very sad case. I think Zaylee could still be alive — perhaps sold, or given, to someone — and I think, whether she’s alive or dead, her case could be solved if there was a lot more publicity. I haven’t updated the casefile since I added it to Charley in November 2011. Zaylee and Shauna were featured on America’s Most Wanted, but I don’t remember whether it was on the show itself or as a “web exclusive.” They got local publicity, nothing national. Zaylee’s being biracial, and her mom’s involvement with drugs, probably didn’t help. I bet if a beautiful young schoolteacher and her infant disappeared under similar circumstances it would be everywhere.

If she’s still alive, Zaylee would be three and a half today. Preschool age. I hope the NCMEC puts up an AP for her soon; the photos I have aren’t of the greatest quality and she looks like every other infant in the entire world. I wish some national news media, like Nancy Grace or that one show that profiles missing black people, would take hold of this case and run a show. Shauna’s got several other children whom, I’m sure, want to know what caused their mother’s death and where their sister is.

I hope I can get off my lazy butt and update today.

Amir Jennings, Zaylee Fryar and Joshua Davis

HuffPo has run an article with the headline: “Amir Jennings, Missing Boy, Neglected By Media Because He’s A Black Boy, Not A White Girl?”

I have written before that I think there’s a lot more to it than race. (I think it’s one of my better entries.) And yes, Amir Jennings should be getting more attention than he has. But I can think of a few babies who are getting absolutely no attention right now. All of whom disappeared the same year as Amir.

Babies like one-year-old Joshua Davis. And Zaylee Fryar, at a mere three months. The most recent article I can find for Joshua is from February, on the anniversary of his disappearance. For Zaylee it’s even longer.

Amir, Joshua and Zaylee all happen to be minorities. Certainly that’s a factor in the media attention, or lack thereof. But I think just as great as a factor is that in all three of these cases, it’s not clear the child was abducted by a stranger. Rightly or wrongly, there’s a lot of suspicion swirling around on family members in all three cases. I think, when there’s clear and convincing evidence of a stranger abduction (like, with Elizabeth Smart), the story becomes more popular with the media because it plays on people’s fears.

That kind of crime could happen to anybody, to any family. But people tell themselves that disappearances like Zaylee’s and Amir’s and Joshua’s only happen in messed-up families with crazy, drugged-up parents. Not families like yours. That would never happen to a family like yours.

I think that’s also why, in a high-profile missing child case, people are so anxious to go over the family with a microscope, exposing all their flaws, quick to judge the parents based on how hard they cry on TV. Because they don’t want to admit that this could happen to anyone. They don’t want to confront themselves with the truth that it happened to a perfectly normal family, because that means it could happen to you.

Do you think this theory applies to Amir’s case and others like it? Discuss.

Added Zaylee Fryar today

I added the case of Zaylee Fryar today. It’s so sad. There’s been no news about her for months, though surely the toxicology results on her mother’s body must have come back by now and the police might have a better idea as to what the cause and manner of death were.

Zaylee’s mother, Shauna…wow. 28 years old. Eight kids under the age of twelve (one of whom pre-deceased her). Drug abuse history. None of the children, except Zaylee, were living with her, on account of her drug abuse problem. She’d been charged with child abuse and neglect before. But it seems like she had a lot of people who loved her, not the least her long-suffering husband.

From what little I know about the case I’d guess that Shauna took Zaylee and went out to get drugs, then had an accidental overdose and died, and whoever gave her the drugs, or whoever was with her, put her body in the river and did god-knows-what with the baby.

I hope the baby is still alive. She looks so adorable in the pictures. I wish this case had gotten more attention in the press; it might have been solved quickly if it had. There’s only been a few articles in Tennessee, where Zaylee disappeared from.