Lauryn Dickens has been missing since September 7. According to WMC-TV in Memphis, her mother, Shakara Dickens, reported her missing after 10 days had elapsed to the Memphis Police. Dickens says she believes that the 10-month-old child’s father, Benjamin Norfleet, knows where her daughter is because she gave the child to a woman who was supposedly sent to pick up the child by Norfleet. For his part, Benjamin Norfleet says he knows nothing about a woman or where Lauryn Dickens might be. Norfleet was in jail at the time of the supposed handover and disappearance.
Memphis Police believe that one parent or the other knows the whereabouts of the child but are refusing to give up the child to the other parent. They note that they could have a case of custodial interference, which would weigh against the father. The state of Tennessee defines “custodial interference” as an “offense” by a natural or adoptive family member to “harbor or hide” a “child within or outside this state, knowing that possession of the child was unlawfully obtained by another person in violation of the rightful custody of the mother… or a temporary or permanent judgment or a court order.”
The problem facing the Memphis Police is figuring out if Benjamin Norfleet, who was in jail on a building burglary charge at the time Lauryn Dickens supposedly went missing, actually had anything to do with the child’s disappearance. At the same time, authorities are attempting to ascertain whether or not Shakara Dickens may simply be lying to the police.
But Lauryn Dickens’ mother readily admits that she gave her child to a complete stranger on September 7. She describes the woman as white, about 40 to 50 years of age, with shoulder-length gray hair and wearing glasses. She said the woman came to her after she (Dickens) had had a conversation on September 7 with Benjamin Norfleet where she told him she was worried about “the welfare of the child and her not being able to care for the child properly.” Dickens said that Norfleet had told her to “give the child to an unknown female — white.”
Benjamin Norfleet continues to insist that he knows nothing about the whereabouts of his daughter.
Lauryn Dickens, was last seen wearing a brown, pink-dotted one-piece outfit with one pink flower. The 10-month-old is one-foot, nine inches tall and weighs just 17 pounds.
A neighbor of Dickens, Kathey Smith, told My Eyewitness News that she had been told by the mother about her missing daughter. “She’s a cute baby, she doesn’t need to be missing. This sounds suspicious. It’s kind of far-fetched.”
Far-fetched and suspicious does not equate untrue, something the Memphis Police know far too well.
Memphis Police are urging anyone with information about Lauryn Dickens or her whereabouts to contact Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.