Sunday, February 25, 2024

Unsealed documents detail investigation into missing Norfolk mother

Reshaunda Gerald, 32, has been missing from her Norfolk home since Jan. 4, 2017. (Courtesy of Latoya Willoughby)

NORFOLK — Where is Reshaunda Gerald?

That’s the question her family has been asking the Norfolk Police Department since the 32-year-old mother of three vanished on Jan. 4.

Gerald was last seen by her mother leaving their Coleman Place home with her ex-boyfriend, said her cousin Latoya Willoughby.

Since she was reported missing, Gerald’s worried family has been calling her cell phone only to get sent directly to voicemail — while caring for her children, aged 15, 10 and eight.

They’ve also been monitoring Gerald’s Facebook page. Described by Willoughby as a “Facebook junkie,” Gerald generally updated her page several times a day.

Her last Facebook post was a meme she shared at 8:12 a.m. on Jan. 4.

A screenshot of the last post Reshaunda Gerald made to her Facebook page on Jan. 4. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Willoughby said the family’s been praying for answers as to what happened to Gerald, who they believe would never willingly leave her children without arranging for their care and telling someone where she was going.

They may be one step closer to getting those answers as recently unsealed documents filed in Norfolk Circuit Court reveal police have focused their investigation on the man Gerald was last seen with.

“I don’t want to feel that she’s gone,” Willoughby said. “It’s been five months without no answers. It’s mind-consuming. You can’t get no sleep.”

Gerald’s last known movements

Gerald was reported missing around noon on Jan. 6 by her father who told police she was last seen by her mother. Gerald’s mother confirmed that she’d last seen her daughter around 8 a.m. on Jan. 4 as she was leaving their house with a man she’d dated, court documents state.

Willoughby said that the pair were engaged at some point, but had broken up as it became clearer that the man wasn’t divorcing his wife.

Police are looking for Reshaunda Gerald who was last seen near walking near the intersection of Olney Road and Lincoln Street on Jan. 4 around 9 a.m. (Courtesy of the Norfolk Police Department)

The man also confirmed to police that he is married and that he and Gerald had been having an “intimate” relationship for about a year, court documents state.

Gerald and the man had an argument the weekend before he picked her up in a black Nissan at the Coleman Place home. They were meeting up to sort through issues, Willoughby said in a January interview with Southside Daily.

That day, wearing a fur-lined pink jacket, blue jeans with holes in the knees and black Jordan Brand sneakers, Gerald said goodbye to her mother and promised she’d be home by 3 p.m. to pick up her daughters from school.

She was never heard from again.

Gerald’s ex-boyfriend tells police a story

When questioned by the Norfolk Police Department, the man admitted to picking Gerald up the day she went missing, court documents show.

He said he used his wife’s Nissan to drive her to the Norfolk Utilities Department so she could pay her water bill. After, they drove through a tunnel into Portsmouth where they went to a carwash and had sex in the Nissan, court documents state.

The man said that they spent about three hours together before he drove Gerald back to Norfolk and dropped her off near the intersection of Lincoln Street and Olney Road.

He told police that he has sent her various texts since dropping her off, but they all went unanswered. He also said that they communicated mostly through text, rarely calling each other, according to court documents.

The man told police that after dropping Gerald off, he and his wife spent the night at the Fairfield Inn, located at 1560 Crossways Blvd in Chesapeake.

Reshaunda Gerald, a 32-year-old mother of three, has been missing from her Norfolk home since Jan. 4, 2017. (Courtesy of Latoya Willoughby)

Cellphone records tell a different story

Police questioned the man several times, looking through his cell phone with his permission and finding that the pair had called each other 45 times between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3, court documents show.

Police asked the man if he and Gerald had ever done drugs together. The man said no, but in his text message history police found that on Dec. 29 he texted Gerald and said he had “$200 of cain” that they could do together, according to court documents.

Willoughby said she wasn’t aware of her cousin using drugs.

During the investigation, police searched Elizabeth River Tunnels records to see if the Nissan had driven through the Downtown or Midtown tunnels on Jan. 4. Records showed that the car hadn’t passed through either tunnel since August of 2016, court documents state.

They also contacted the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge, confirming that the car had not ever crossed that bridge.

Cell phone records showed that Gerald and her ex-boyfriend hadn’t gone to a car wash that day as the man originally reported, and that she was never dropped off near the intersection of Lincoln Street and Olney Road, according to court documents.

Instead, the records showed Gerald’s phone ping off cellphone towers near the man’s Camelot-area Chesapeake home from 10:49 a.m. to 11:09 p.m. on Jan. 4.

Gerald’s phone also pinged off cell phone towers located across from the Fairfield Inn during the time the man was there with his wife. Her ex-boyfriend told police that she hadn’t come to the hotel with him, and he didn’t think she would follow him there.

Trunk mat, hatchet raise questions

Court documents show that about two weeks after Gerald went missing the man went to Florida to attend drug treatment.  During a Feb. 9 interview with the man, police said he couldn’t explain why his story contradicted the cell phone records, but he said he hadn’t hurt or abducted her.

Two days later, police searched the black Nissan and found the trunk mat and a hatchet wrapped inside a plastic bag in the trunk. They tested the materials with a chemical called Blue Star, which glows blue when it reacts with the hemoglobin in human blood, according to court documents.

The trunk mat and hatchet glowed blue.

Police noticed that the hatchet, which looked new, had a Meiggs Hardware tag on it. It also had an unknown material on the blade and at the top of the handle, according to court documents.

Police visited the Chesapeake hardware store, located at 1153 George Washington Highway North, on Feb. 13 and showed the general manager a picture of the hatchet with the tag number.

The store’s records showed that type of hatchet was sold on Jan. 7, the day after Gerald was formally reported missing.

No one has been arrested in connection to this case, but Norfolk Police Department spokesman Daniel Hudson confirmed that it is still under investigation.

Gerald is described as a slender African American woman with a dark complexion. She has blue hair and brown eyes, and is about five feet one inch in height. She also has the word “RIFE” tattooed on her neck and the word “MULE” tattooed on her chest, surrounded by angel wings.

Anyone with information on her disappearance should call the Norfolk Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

Mayfield can be reached at adrienne.m@wydaily.com.

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