Tionda and Diamond Bradley disappeared mysteriously from the streets near their Chicago apartment after apparently going outside to play.
July 6, 2001 (Friday)
Lake Grove Village Apartments
3526 S. Lake Park Ave
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Tionda Z Bradley
Alternative Name: Unknown
Diamond Lynette Bradley
Nickname: Honey Bun
Alternative Name: Unknown
Missing from: Lake Grove Village Complex, 3526 S. Lake Park Ave, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Date Missing: July 6, 2001 (Friday)
Taken By: Unknown
This article is built on research from a wide variety of sources; many of whom conflicted on key details like timing or omitted relevant details all together. We have attempted to know where conflicts were likely or where information is considered abnormally unreliable. If you wish to submit a correction to the story, please comment below or ‘Contact Us‘.
Tionda (10) was a lovely young girl, who ran track at school, loved dancing, and is fondly remembered by her cousin as speeding down the streets on her bicycle. She even won local awards for her running and gymnastic abilities. At home, she was particularly an excellent big sister to little Diamond (3). Their relationship wasn’t always smooth sailing (what siblings are?) as Diamond was at the age when a toddler begins expressing their rapidly developing personalities – sometimes a bit stubbornly – and the sisters did sometimes argue.
Their family remembers the little things still: Diamond was always jumping on the couch and sneaking food from others. Tionda’s favorite song was Queen’s ‘I Want it All’ and her favorite movie was ‘Blade’ – she also enjoyed playing dolls with her older sisters.
There were four girls in total – Rita (12), Tionda (10), Victoria (8), and Diamond (3), but only Tionda and Diamond were at home that day together. Rita and Victoria were staying at their grandmother’s and planning to celebrate Victoria’s birthday which was on Saturday. Their mother later said she had made plans to take the girls on a camping trip up in Indiana with Diamond’s father (Barker, 2002). Those plans never materialized.
On that fateful Friday morning, Diamond’s father (George Washington) arrived at around 4:30am, whereupon he stayed until he took Tracey to work at approximately 6:00am – 6:30am. Tracey was employed at Robert Taylor Park where she was preparing lunches for the summer camp kids. Their plan was for George to come back after her shift and pick Tracey up; they would return to the apartment for the girls; and then they would set off for the Indiana camping trip (Grace, 2007).
George spent the time in between at his girlfriend’s home and then later at his mother’s. Meanwhile, Tionda and Diamond remained at home with Tionda playing babysitter.
When Tracey’s shift ended, George was there to pick her and some of her colleagues up. He then drove them around, dropping off the other people before they finally arrived at the Bradley’s apartment complex sometime between 11:00am – 12:30pm (the exact time varies per report – e.g., Charley Project v. Grace, 2007 – but it seems closer to 12:30pm).
Tracey found the front door locked, but neither of the girls were home. The only sign of what had happened to them was a handwritten letter from Tionda* on the back of the couch explaining that the girls were going to go to Tionda’s school and then stopping by Lake Meadows Shopping Center right across the street from the school. Tionda was enrolled in summer classes at Doolittle Elementary just a couple of blocks away, and their mother did not initially think it was particularly strange. She assumed Tionda might have just taken Diamond with her to school instead of skipping class.
*(handwriting experts have verified its authenticity).
Unfortunately, as time passed the girls never reappeared. Tracey later testified that she scoured the neighborhood looking for them, but nothing materialized. It is not clear how much George contributed to the search. Tracey finally submitted a missing persons report to police on Friday night around 6:30pm, twelve hours after telling the girls goodbye that morning.
Several different children in the neighborhood later testified they saw the sisters playing near their home ad in the school playground around noon, but none of the faculty or staff at the school confirmed seeing them there. Victoria and Rita couldn’t shed any light on where their sisters might have gone either.
Diamond had left behind her backpack suggesting they didn’t plan to be gone long; and nothing was taken that suggested a runaway situation. Nor was there any history amongst the children of running away.
Neither child has been seen since; it’s as if they simply vanished into the Chicagoan urban jungle.
The case was initially treated as a missing persons case given that there was never any evidence that the girls were actually abducted. Nonetheless, the manhunt was massive initially, involving more than one hundred police officers and the FBI.
Police and the community scoured the neighborhood going apartment-to-apartment and coming all nearby natural areas and parks. They searched ‘roofs, sewers, stairwells, elevator shafts, lakes, lagoons, parks, cornfields, paint factories, drive-in movie theaters’ and more (Barker, 2002). They even search more than 5,000 abandoned buildings in the city. . . but still there was nothing.
Their neighborhood is just a few minutes walk from Burnham Park which runs alongside Lake Michigan – it might have been attractive to two little girls out walking and playing. Police investigated many leads including an anonymous caller who said they were a minister and had a ‘vision’ of two bags being cast out into the water. They also looked into a lead that the girls may have been buried in a nearby nature preserve after two areas were found with freshly-turned dirt. One ‘psychic’ tipster said the girls were being kept as sex slaves in a small town elsewhere in Illinois. Despite continued searches, no trace was ever found of where the girls went after leaving their home that morning.
Family suggests it was unlikely that the girls were taken by a stranger – Both girls were relatively shy around strangers, though Diamond was said to be particularly chatty when she wanted to be and Tionda has been described out out-spoken and smart for her age. They believe it was highly unusual for Tionda to have written or left a letter – instead she would always just call or send a message to her mom on the phone directly. Her great-aunt also has said the voice of the note was not in Tionda’s usual style. Some theorize that they were taken by someone familiar to them – someone they trusted. Someone who could easily manage two girls at the same time and was aware that they were alone and without supervision.
*There is some confusion as to how this would have played out – the girls were seen playing outside at approximately noon by more than one person. Situation 1: They were kidnapped while outside of the apartment. This would leave the kidnapper getting back to the apartment before 12:30 (latest estimate for mother’s return) and dropping off the note, but that would not be a large time frame and seems unnecessarily risky for little gain. Or the kidnapper left the note before going to kidnap the kids (how did he so perfectly copy Tionda’s handwriting as to fool the FBI and that would be pre-meditated). Situation 2: Someone kidnapped them from the apartment directly after they had returned (suggests a later time of disappearance as they would have had to leave the play yard around noon, pick up whatever they wanted at the store, and make it home to be kidnapped and forced to write a note all before 12:30 at the latest (seems unlikely though possible).
One family member suggested two unknown men were seen in the apartment after the mother had left that morning, but this has not been verified by police nor is it clear if they were there before or after the girls left (Wong and Gorner, 2016).
The girls’ mother Tracey passed a polygraph test shortly after they disappeared; however, police later noted she became less cooperative as time passed.
For example, in March 2002 she pushed an officer and was taken to the station handcuffed. The officer said he was just asking her to accompany him to the police station to discuss new leads they had uncovered. Police started to question her, but her attorney put an end to it.
After this, Tracey became less willing to work with police and failed to appear at several appointments with them. Nonetheless, she is not a suspect in the case.
Two men police investigated were linked to the girls as possible paternal connections.
The first was an unknown Moroccan man who had been paying child support for Tionda under the mistaken belief he was her father. Tracey filed a paternity lawsuit against the man a month before the girls vanished, but the case would later unveil that he was not actually biologically related to Tionda and had been wrongfully paying child support for some time. It is not clear when he learned the truth, but hairs were found in his trunk that DNA testing matched to the Bradley family. It could not however show whether the hair was one of the girls’ or their mother, and an FBI trip to Morocco revealed nothing.
The second was Diamond’s father George Washington. The morning they disappeared, Tionda called her mother and left a voice mail around 8:30am (CNN, 2008). In it she said a man named ‘George’ was at the door and asking if she should let him in.* However, there were other men named George in their lives, so it is not clear who precisely she was referring to.
*This voice mail is mentioned in the 2007 Nancy Grace interview, but does not appear in any of the reports published by police. Nor can we find a place where police discussed or referenced this voice mail. The family says several people heard the voicemail, but it ‘mysteriously’ disappeared. As such we cannot verify it’s existence.
**The voicemail reportedly said they were going to Jewels (a local market) to pick up a cake for Victoria’s birthday. Assuming the voicemail was real . . . did the girls not know about the camping trip? It seemed like Tracey and George were planning to be in Indiana camping and would miss Victoria’s birthday (which already seems odd, but feasible). Where did the cake play a role? Did ‘George’ say they were going to drop off the cake before leaving for the camping trip? Were they expected at the grandparents’ home that day?
Police have repeated re-interviewed and re-investigated the extensive family surrounding the girls. They even searched the girls’ great-grandfather’s Wisconsin home. But nothing was every found.
Tips still continue to appear every so often – in 2004, a firefighters said he saw the girls in an Indianapolis park. In 2013, a woman from Gary, Indiana contacted the girls’ great-aunt and said she might have relevant information for the case. She felt compelled to report that on that day years before her boyfriend returned to the home clearly upset, saying he has made a mistake and talking about killing an unknown female who had seen something (CBS Chicago, 2013). In 2019, a woman from Texas claimed to be Tionda, but it was later proven to be untrue.
Although almost 20 years have passed, Tionda and Diamond’s family continue to search for them. As long as that search continues, they hope to keep the sisters’ memory alive. Tracey had two other children in the years that passed. Rita and Victoria still remind their siblings and cousins of the girls that vanished in an afternoon.
In 2016, the extended family of almost fifty people held a public vigil for the girls, lifting up their prayers and releasing white balloons in their honor.
- Date of Birth: 1/20/1991
- Age at Disappearance: 10
- Ethnicity: African American / Black
- Nationality: United States
- Gender at Birth: Female
- Hair: Brunette
- Eye Color: Brown
- Height: 4’2″
- Weight: 70lbs
- Date of Birth: 11/25/1997
- Age at Disappearance: 3
- Ethnicity: African American / Black
- Nationality: United States
- Gender at Birth: Female
- Hair: Black
- Eye Color: Black
- Height: 3’0″ (Chicago Tribune says 2’0″)
- Weight: 40lbs
Distinguishing Marks or Factors
- Tionda ➜
- Quarter-size scar from a burn on her left forearm
- She frequently used the word ‘girl’ and said ‘bye’ as ‘baby-bye’
- Diamond ➜
- Scar on the left side of her head
- Tionda ➜ Green Ponytail Holders
- Diamond ➜ Purple Ponytail Holders
If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact the FBI at (855) 835-5305 or online at FBI – Tips
- Missing Kids, ‘DIAMOND BRADLEY’, Link.
- Missing Kids, ‘TIONDA BRADLEY.’ Link
- Garcia, J. (2019) ‘Family: Texas woman lied about being missing Bradley sister who disappeared 18 years ago’, ABC 7 Chicago, 26 May. Link
- Charley Project (2004) ‘Tionda Z. Bradley’, 12 October. Link
- Charley Project (2004) ‘Diamond Yvette Bradley’, 12 October. Link.
- The Rock Island Argus (2001) ‘Police, FBI continue hunt for missing sisters”, 10 July.
- Anderson, L. (2002) ‘Kidnapping: activists teach parents power of the media’, 18 July.
- The Tennessean (2001) ‘Community searches, holds vigil for two sisters’, 12 July.
- Eltagouri, M. (2016) ‘Missing sisters remembered’, Chicago Tribune, 7 July.
- Barker, K. (2002) ‘Family of missing girls lives a prayer of hope’, Chicago Tribune, 6 January.
- Wong, G. and Gorner, J. (2016) ‘Into thin air’, Chicago Tribune, 6 July.
- Barker, K. and Terry, D. (2001) ‘Hope for girls, vigils fading’, Chicago Tribune, 17 August.
- Deering, T. and Rucker, P. (2004) ‘Hope for sisters endures’, Chicago Tribune, 7 July.
- Chase, J. and Igoe, R. (2001) ‘Community joins hunt for 2 sisters’, Chicago Tribune, 9 July.
- Miller, S. (2020) ‘Chicago’s Bradley Sisters Disappeared 19 Years Ago’, WBBM Radio, 7 July. Link
- Miller, S. (2019) ‘Texas Woman Claims To Be One Of The Missing Bradley Sisters’, WBBM Radio, 14 May. Link
- u/bolettebo (2019) ”Diamond and Tionda Bradley disappeared after being left home alone; they were 10 and 3, Reddit, Link.
- CBS Chicago (2013) ‘Bradley Sisters’ Relative: Gary Woman Might Know Something About Missing Girls’, 29 March. Link
- Mikkilineni, R. (2008) ‘Sisters vanish from Chicago’s South Side’, CNN, 23 September. Link
- Grace, N. (2007) ‘Chicago Girls Still Missing After Five Years’, CNN, 12 March. Link
- Torriero, E. and Ferkenhoff, E. (2001) ‘Store security tape buoys hopes’, Chicago Tribune, 13 July. Link