top of page
Search

Missing: Phoenix Coldon


            On December 18th, 2011, Phoenix Coldon left the home she lived in with her parents in Spanish Lake, Missouri, suddenly and without telling her parents where she was going. Phoenix never came home that night, alarming her parents. She was reported missing, but her parents felt that the St. Louis County Police Department did not take the case seriously. Furthermore, Phoenix’s case did not garner the media attention that Phoenix deserves.


     



       Phoenix Coldon was born in 1988 in California to Goldia Coldon. Her father was not in the picture, but soon Goldia met Lawrence Coldon and they married. Lawrence adopted Phoenix and loved her as if she was his own daughter. He is her daughter. The family moved to the St. Louis, Missouri area for Lawrence’s job. They settled into a home in Spanish Lake, Missouri.

            Phoenix was mostly homeschooled by her mother Goldia. The family was deeply religious. Phoenix excelled academically and musically. She played the violin, guitar, and piano. She was also a fencing champion. She had a happy yet sheltered childhood. After she turned eighteen years old, Phoenix moved out with a friend of hers. Her mother actually signed the lease, and Phoenix was free to live with her friend. She also started taking classes at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

            When Phoenix Coldon disappeared on that winter day in 2011, she was once again living with her parents. She was now twenty-three years old. Her mother said she saw Phoenix go outside to her vehicle that afternoon. She said that was not uncommon and Phoenix often took phone calls in her vehicle. Her father saw her pull away in her vehicle at approximately 2:20 pm that day. She didn’t come home that night.

            When Phoenix was reported missing, the case garnered minimal media attention. Her parents believe that is because she is a black female. The case did not receive the same media attention that missing cases of white females including Natalie Holloway. St. Louis journalist Shawndrea Thomas agreed to cover the story and became a key person in the search for Phoenix Coldon.



            On January 1st, 2012, approximately two weeks after Phoenix disappeared, a family friend was helping to search for Phoenix and found her vehicle in an East St. Louis impound lot. Records showed that the car was found abandoned in East St. Louis at 5:27 pm, just three hours after Phoenix’s parents last saw her. East St. Louis, just across the river from St. Louis, is actually in Illinois. It’s a very dangerous area with high crime rates. No one in Phoenix’s family knew a reason she would have been in the area.

            On the Oxygen special “The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon”, the officer who found the vehicle told reporter Shaundrea Thomas that he found the car parked along the side of the road with no belongings inside. He ran the plates to ensure the vehicle was not stolen. When he confirmed it was not a stolen vehicle, he arranged for it to be towed to the impound lot. At that time, Phoenix was not known to have disappeared yet. She had only left her house three hours before.

The Coldon family originally told Shawndrea Thomas in 2011 that the car was found running on the side of the road with the door ajar. This suggested a possible carjacking and kidnapping. In 2018, the officer who impounded the vehicle reported that the car had been parked along the side of the road with no belongings or keys inside. It had not been running.

Shaundrea confronted Coldon’s parents on “The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon” about where the information regarding the car running had come from. They could not remember who had told them that. They also shared that when they retrieved the vehicle from the impound lot, they found Phoenix’s purse, shoes, and personal belongings in the vehicle. They were able to show these items, proving that the officer did not search the vehicle.

            Phoenix’s friends told investigators that Phoenix was not the same person her parents thought they knew. First of all, Phoenix was not living with her friend at eighteen. She had moved in with a boyfriend that her parents knew nothing about. Phoenix also had a cell phone that she paid for on her own, hiding it from her parents who paid for her primary cell phone. Her friend states she got the phone to hide calls to and from her boyfriend from her parents. She apparently felt she had to hide her relationships as her parents were strict and religious. Phoenix’s mother stated that she would not have approved of her boyfriend.

            Even some of her friends did not know everything Phoenix was hiding. Everyone thought that Phoenix was enrolled at UMSL for that semester, but she had actually dropped out of school. Prior to her disappearance, Phoenix had been living with her mother and father for seven months. Her parents stated that she moved back because the family could not continue to pay for her apartment. Phoenix’s friends state that her parents were controlling and over-protective. Her friends also said that her personality began to change after she moved back in with her parents.

            Shawndrea Thomas and retired police officer Joe Delia investigated this case, which was the subject of the documentary “The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon”. The two learned through Phoenix’s parents that Phoenix had a phone conversation with the boy she had previously been living with the day she disappeared. Shaundrea and Joe tried relentlessly to reach this boyfriend, who still lived in the area. He was not cooperative with the investigation. He refused to take their calls or answer the door when they knocked. Her boyfriend had been investigated by the police department investigating this case. They stated that he is no longer considered a suspect.

            Phoenix’s best friend says that Phoenix grew paranoid and angry in the months leading up to her disappearance. She said that Phoenix kept a knife in her vehicle and pulled it out on her during any argument. She said Phoenix thought she was talking about her behind her back. She also shared that Phoenix told her that she was going to pack up her stuff and leave. She never shared where she planned to go. She disappeared shortly after the argument.

            Phone records revealed that Phoenix recorded a selfie video on her phone shortly before she disappeared. Phoenix is upset in the video and says that she “wants to start over”. She says, “I want people to take me seriously”. She prayed for help to accept what she cannot change and change the things that she can. She also makes reference to cops being in the area. It was recorded a month before her disappearance. The second secret phone was confirmed with a bill for the phone that was sent to collections in Phoenix’s room.



            Her friend also shared that Phoenix wanted to break up with her boyfriend but wasn’t sure how to. She had begun dating another man, which she was hiding from her parents and boyfriend. Only her best friend knew about the second boyfriend. Shawndrea and Joe tracked down the second boyfriend. He had a history of domestic violence. He declined to talk with them and suggested they contact his lawyer. His ex-girlfriend shared that she once asked him about Phoenix, to which he responded, “Why are you worrying about somebody whose dead?”.

            A friend of Phoenix believes that she saw Phoenix on an airplane that was traveling from Las Vegas to St. Louis in March of 2014. The friend stated that she was seated but looked up to see a group of women still boarding when she saw Phoenix. She said that she called her name, to which the woman looked directly at her. As the woman passed, she said “Oh do I look like someone?”. The friend said “yes, you look like my friend Phoenix”. She said the woman stopped communicating with her. She was traveling with a small group of well-dressed young black women and two men. Upon landing, the friend alerted authorities in St. Louis that she believed she just saw a missing person. However, no one could find the woman.

            Another friend of Phoenix stated that Phoenix had run away from her parents two years before her disappearance. She said that she would spend long periods of time not speaking to her mother. Phoenix’s parents deny this, stating that the friend is lying. Her parents stated they do not believe that Phoenix would have run away and denied any tension between the three of them.

            The Coldon family hired a private investigator who has been working on the case on and off since 2012. He shared that Phoenix had been taking things out of the Coldon’s safe, at which time she came across two birth certificates for herself. One, for Phoenix Reeves, her mother’s maiden name, and second for Phoenix Coldon. Phoenix may not have known that Lawrence was not her father. He also described heated arguments between Phoenix and her parents leading up to her disappearance.

            An investigator recruited by Joe and Shawndrea ran background checks for women named “Phoenix Reeves”. There were only four in the United States, and three of them were well substantiated and ruled out. The last was for a person named Phoenix Reeves in Anchorage, Alaska. This Phoenix Reeves was linked to an address beginning two months after Phoenix disappeared and was not associated with a social security number or other identifying information. The Phoenix Reeves address became inactive six months later.

            The documentary team went to this address in Anchorage, Alaska around 2017-2018. No one in the neighborhood recognized pictures of Phoenix Coldon. At the address, a female came out of the house. This woman stated she has owned and lived in that house since 2002. She seemed genuine and denied knowing Phoenix Reeves or Phoenix Coldon. Ultimately, what seemed like a good lead only led to disappointment and mystery.

            There is no trace of Phoenix Coldon since her disappearance. There is no activity under her name or social security number. Phoenix was twenty-three years old when she disappeared. She would be thirty-five years old now. She is an African American woman who is approximately 5’3” to 5’6” and weighed between 123 and 130 pounds. She was last seen wearing a dark blue or black hooded sweatshirt, gray sweatpants with the letters U M S L on them, and black sneakers. She had black hair and brown eyes. Her ears are pierced, and she may wear glasses.


Theories


Human Trafficking

            Human trafficking is defined as “the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation”. Human trafficking is a major problem globally. In the United States, Missouri is in the top ten states for human trafficking prevalence. St. Louis in particular, is one of the top twenty cities in the United States for trafficking.

            The place in Illinois where Phoenix’s car was found close to Interstate 70. Phoenix seemed depressed prior to her disappearance and said she “needed to get away”. It was possible that she was involved in a grooming type of relationship and was lured away from her family only to be trafficked to another city for sex work.

            DNA was obtained from a thorough search of Phoenix’s vehicle. The only three profiles found in the vehicle belonged to Phoenix, her mother, and her father. It has to be stated, however, that the vehicle had been impounded and picked up by the Coldon family. Therefore, the vehicle could have been altered or cleaned during that time as no one can substantiate the chain of custody. Evidence may have also degraded during that time.

            Phoenix would have likely been an easy target for someone to groom her into the sex trafficking world. She grew up in a sheltered and strict household. Phoenix desired freedom from her strict parents. All of these things made her vulnerable to someone who may have coerced her into running away. If the citing on the airplane was accurate, Phoenix may have been traveling with a few other women in the sex trade and the two men were likely pimps.


Victim of a Violent Crime

            East St. Louis, Illinois, is in the fourth percentile nationally for crime. This means, 96% of cities in the United States have less crime. Only three percent of cities are worse. East St. Louis crime rates are well above average. A crime is committed every seven hours in this area. There is a high rate of violent crime including assaults, murders, sexual assaults, and robbery. There is an even higher rate of property crimes which includes burglary, theft, vehicle theft, and arson.

            The officer who found the vehicle told Joe and Shawndrea that the vehicle was found parked on the side of the road, not running, and no keys were inside. He said that he assumed someone probably ran out of gas and would come back for the vehicle, but he had it impounded. It may have been possible that Phoenix was in that area and ran out of gas or had car trouble. Perhaps she stopped the vehicle only to be attacked in a dangerous part of a dangerous city.

            If Phoenix was a victim of a violent crime, what was she doing in East St. Louis? Perhaps she had been involved in some sort of illegal activity or drug activity. There were no signs of a struggle in or around the vehicle, but some of Phoenix’s belongings were in the vehicle including her shoes. Some of her friends said she was acting strangely and was scared before her disappearance. Her second secret boyfriend had a history of domestic violence. He also allegedly told his ex-girlfriend, “Why you worrying about somebody whose dead?”. This same guy told the documentary team to contact his lawyer, refusing to answer questions. There is no physical evidence suggesting a violent crime occurred.


Voluntarily Missing

            Often, missing persons cases are closed within the first two days. Eighty-five to ninety percent of those end with the missing person returned safely. In several cases, there is a misunderstanding. In some cases, someone went on a vacation without telling family members or a teenager is at a friend’s house. In the overwhelming majority of missing persons cases end safely for the missing person, even if there was a crime that led to the disappearance such as kidnapping. In other cases, the missing person is located but chooses, as an adult, for that information not to be disclosed. These people are missing on purpose and don’t want to be found.

            Adults in the United States have every right to “go missing” or “walk away from their lives”. While the person may not be free of their financial and parental obligations, the law does not force anyone to associate themselves with people they do not want to, even if it’s their own family. Some reasons often cited in these cases are trauma, mental health issues, abuse, and financial issues as the primary reasons why individuals choose to disappear.

            Phoenix Coldon made a video shortly before her disappearance in which she talks about needing to get away. She seems emotionally distraught and at a breaking point in the video. She may have been struggling with her mental health. Her best friend described her mood in the six months before she disappeared as volatile and paranoid. She also could have possibly felt that she needed to get away from her parents. The manner in which her vehicle was found, and her multiple cell phones and secrets support this theory.

            If Phoenix chose to disappear on purpose, it is believed that she would have needed help. Someone had to pick her up where her car was found. She would have needed help securing a new identity. Could the address for Phoenix Reeves in Anchorage be a ruse set up to protect Phoenix’s new identity? This could also explain why she ignored her friend on the plane two years after she disappeared. Perhaps Phoenix is out there listening to this podcast or watching the documentary about her disappearance while living as someone else in a brand-new life.

            Phoenix’s parents became very upset at the notion that Phoenix could be missing on her own. Her mother is very angry and says “Why? Why would Phoenix leave?”. She does not believe any of their fights would have led Phoenix to leave. She also admits that she has been holding back information and suggests that her daughter may have “gotten involved in something over her head”.


What do you think happened to Phoenix Coldon? Let us know on Facebook!


If you or someone you know is experiencing human trafficking, call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or call 911 if you or another person is in immediate danger. You can also submit a tip online at: Contact Us | National Human Trafficking Hotline

 

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Phoenix Coldon or Phoenix Reeves, call 314-615-5400.

           

 

References

(1)    Facebook

(10)                   https://www.oxygen.com/the-disappearance-of-phoenix-coldon

(11)                   Human Trafficking Statistics by State 2023 - Wisevoter

(12)                   htdca22.pdf (ojp.gov)

276 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page