Two decades have passed since sisters Diamond and Tionda Bradley disappeared without a trace. Both girls were last seen on July 6th, 2001, when their mother Tracey Bradley left for an early work shift at 6:30 am. The girls were ten and three years old respectively at the time of their unexplained disappearance.
Today, Diamond would be approaching her 24th Birthday, while Tionda would be 30 years of age. Following the realization that the two young sisters had gone missing, one of the biggest manhunts in the city of Chicago’s history was initiated. However today, the family of the two sisters continues to wait for answers in a case that—despite a number of twists and turns—has never provided much-needed closure.
- The Trail Goes Cold
When Tracey Bradley returned home from work on July 6th, 2001—to the apartment she shared with her daughters near 35th and Cottage Grove in Chicago, Illinois—her two girls were nowhere to be found.
The sisters’ mother discovered a note from Tionda which said they had planned to walk to a store and Doolittle Elementary School, where the eldest was enrolled in summer school classes. Although children from the local neighborhood reported having seen the sisters playing nearby at around midday, Tionda did not attend class, and the girls were never seen again.
On the day that they went missing, Tionda’s hair was styled with green ponytail holders, and she bore the usual signs of a playful childhood—with a scrape on her left calf and a quarter-sized burn mark on her left arm. Diamond sported purple ponytail holders and was described as having a scar on the left side of her hairline at the time she went missing.
- Inconclusive and False Leads
Two men were said to be of interest to the case, including a Middle Eastern man who was reported to have paid child support for one of the sisters and later learned that he was not her father. However, no conclusive evidence was ever declared to the public, nor charges brought. Not long after the sisters’ disappearance, a young girl was found—raising hopes for the frantic family—however, she was otherwise identified and reunited with her own kin.
In the spring of 2005, a body of a girl close to Tionda’s age was found in a South Side industrial zone in Chicago. Once again, the Bradley family endured the emotional roller coaster of a possible lead, however following a DNA test performed against a sample from the girls’ mother Tracey, it was confirmed that Tionda remained missing.
Eighteen years after the disappearance, a woman from Texas came forward claiming to be Tionda. Communicating with the family via text message in 2019, she claimed that she and Diamond had been abducted by a family friend. Enlisting the help of a private investigator, the Bradley family were tragically able to identify that the woman—known at the time as LayLay Rodriguez on social media—was lying. This was reportedly in part due to a missing scar.
Speaking to CBS News, the girls’ great aunt Sheila Bradley-Clark shared, “This group of scammers are not the missing Diamond or Tionda Bradley.” Meanwhile, the family expressed on Facebook, “We hope that all will continue to provide any tips as to the whereabouts of Diamond and Tionda Bradley.”
- Keeping Memory of the Bradley Sisters Alive
Each year since the disappearance of Diamond and Tionda, their devoted family have gathered to stage a vigil in Chicago’s Taylor Park—both in the girls’ memory, and in the hope that answers will one day be revealed. “Some days I have dreams that I’m seeing them walking down the street,” said Diamond and Tionda’s great uncle K.D. Jones when speaking at the gathering in 2017. Last year, mother Tracey Bradley shared, “I know in my heart they’re still alive.”
The FBI continues to hold the case open, but unfortunately no further developments have emerged. Periodically, the FBI has also released age progression photos that aim to suggest what Diamond and Tionda might look like today. As the family prepares to mark 20 years since the Bradley sisters’ disappearance, the truth of what happened on that fateful morning sadly remains shrouded in mystery.