Mother Packs Missing Woman's Belongings - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/19/03

Mother Packs Missing Woman's Belongings

Diane Crooms packs her daughters things. Diane Crooms packs her daughters things.

Imagine your daughter gone without a trace just as she's about to become a parent herself. That's what Diane Crooms is going through. Her daughter, Georgia Southern graduate student Dena Carter--some six months pregnant at the time--disappeared more than two months ago. Her child is due next month.

Carter left her apartment September 11 and hasn't been seen since. Now her mother is trying to find closure inside her daughter's home. Crooms is sorting through the last traces of her daughter's life. With police permission, she's packing the belongings of her daughter and her unborn child. "Just because we're taking it home doesn't mean the case is closed," she told us. "It don't mean I didn't care about Dena."

Carter left home to study at the nearby library and no one has heard from her since. Friends look through the homemade scrapbook they say shows Carter's excitement over her unborn child. She wasn't due to deliver until Christmas Day, but Winnie the Pooh baby things filled the apartment.

Neighbors and those who love Carter say they can't come near her apartment and all the mystery that surrounds it. "The stairs are right here and I'll go to the other stairs because it's easier," said next-door neighbor NaQuanda Hayes. "Especially at night."

While it still seems like the 23-year-old graduate student vanished into thin air, police won't give up. "I'm a stubborn investigator," said Det. Terry Briley with Statesboro PD. "I don't like to give up and this one I'm not going to give up."

"Whatever I have to do, I will be here till they tell me they've found her, either way it goes," said Crooms.

Crooms says the things she takes with her will have to keep her company until she gets answers about her daughter and grandchild to be. She is taking those boxes back home to California with her. She gave some of Carter's belongings to her closest friends.

The day she disappeared, Carter used her student grant money to pay her rent through January, so no one believes she chose to leave. Police have had plenty of leads, but say most of them wind up as dead ends. But they say they're pursuing each one they get. If you have any information, call your local authorities.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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