Episode 2: The Disappearances of Christopher Dansby, Shane Walker, Andre Bryant and the Murder of Monique Rivera
One missing child is one too many but sadly, we live in a world where children go missing every day. Most of them are found very quickly but the longer a child stays missing, the worse the outcome is likely to be. In 1989 in New York City, two African-American toddlers went missing and one of their mothers was murdered. Lets uncover the disappearances of Christopher Dansby, Shane Walker, Andre Bryant and the murder of Monique Rivera
If you have any information on Christopher, Shane & Andre's disappearance, or on Monique's murder, please contact the NYPD on (212) 694-7781
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One missing child is one too many but sadly, we live in a world where children go missing every day. Most of them are found very quickly but the longer a child stays missing, the worse the outcome is likely to be. According to the Thorn, a non-profit organisation that is working tirelessly to end child exploitation online, 52% of all arrests linked to juvenile prostitution included an African American child and 92% of children referred to the Los Angeles STAR court, who help child victims of child sex abuse, are African American. These statistics are devasting and shocking but we need to raise exposure of this epidemic if there is any hope at all of ending it for good. The fate of three African American toddlers in New York City is still unknown to this day but as we will touch on later in this episode, human tracking is a possibility that’s impossible to ignore in all three cases. Let's uncover the disappearances of Shane Walker, Christopher Dansby, Andre Bryant and the murder of Andre's mother Monique Rivera.
Christopher Dansby, nicknamed Cho-Choo by his brother Levon, was born on the 30th of Match 1987. His mother Alisson had suffered with substance abuse during her life but had worked hard to stay clean for Andre and his brother. They lived in the Martin Luther King Jr Tower housing project and on the 18th of May 1989, Allison took her sons to a playground close to the project along with the children's grandmother. At 7pm, Allison realised she had to go to pick up a few times from the shops. Not wanting to run back to her apartment to get his pram and likely realising she'd be quicker going alone, Allison asked Christopher's grandmother to watch the boys while she went. She agreed and upon her return, she asked where Christopher was. Christopher had last been seen with Levon and two other children, a 10 year girl and a 5 year old boy playing with a red ball in the playground but couldn’t be found, nor could the red ball, which wasn't even his. She frantically searched the park but with no success so called the police. She gave the police his description, an African American boy, 2 months away from celebrating his second birthday. He was 2'6, 30 pounds, A blue jacket, a floral print shirt, blue jeans and green and white sneakers. Christopher has a birthmark shaped like a figure eight on his back and a burn scar on his thigh. Recalling his brother's disappeared, Leven stated “We was playing and Choo-Choo got lost, I didn’t see him. I called my mommy. If somebody has him, if they see that he’s Choo-Choo, they can bring him to my house with my name on him.” The police talked to the two siblings but they both said they hadn’t seen him leave the park, although another child did. He was seen walking west down 111st Street a street adjacent to the park. The man was described as African-American, between 25 and 30 years old, six feet tall and thin, with dreadlocked hair.
Police initially suspected Christopher's mother Allison of being involved in his disappearance, or at least she drug use and possible debts being a motive for the kidnapping. Responding to this allegation, Allison said “They said a lot of mean things, that I was buying crack when my baby was taken, that I traded by baby for drugs. They’re all lies. I’ve done crack almost five years, in and out. But I never owed nobody money. I passed a lie detector test,” It appears as though Allison has been ruled out as a suspect and no others have been publicly identified. This wouldn’t be the only tragedy to hit this housing project as 3 months later in the same park, another African American child vanished.
Shane Walker was born on the 7th of December 1987 and was Rosa Glover's only child. Rosa recalled a trip she went on with Shane to Disneyland, Florida. Although Shane loved all the rides, he wasn't too keen on the main star of the park, Mickey Mouse - "He would just holler and scream. I had to carry him all around the park.'' On the 10th of August 1989, Rosa and Shane made their way from their apartment in Martin Luther King Jr Tower to the nearby park. At the time, Shane was wearing a blue and white shirt and blue trousers and white LA Gear sneakers. His hair was braided and in a ponytail and he had a small scar under chin. He stood at 3'0, weighed 23 pounds and was only 19 months old. Two children came up to Rosa, asking if they could play with her son. Rosa thought this was a little weird as he was a lot younger than then but she agreed. Rosa sat in a bench watching Shane play with the pair when an unfamiliar man sat beside and started engaging her in conversation. The man showed her scars on his body and made comments on children going missing in the area and how unsafe it was. Rosa was distracted by the man for a couple of minutes and when she drew her attention back to the park, Shane was gone. During her search of the car, she saw the two kids re-entering the park through a hole in the fence. She asked the pair where Shane was and they claimed to have left him in the park, a story they repeated to police. Investigators also interviewed the man who had spoken to Rosa before Shane went missing and he said he hadn't seen anything either. After talking to other people who had been in the park at the time, police announced they were looking for an African-American male who was between 19 - 24-years-old, around 5 feet 8 inches, who was wearing a yellow shirt and acid-washed jeans.
Police questioned Rosa at length as they wanted to know why she had taken a life insurance policy out on Shane shortly before his disappearance. Rosa claimed that on the lead up to their holiday to Florida, she became increasingly anxious about the plane crashing and that was why she had taken out the policy but I couldn’t find any information on whether she had taken out a policy for herself. She apparently tried to cash in the policy 7 weeks after Shane went missing but without a death certificate, they wouldn’t pay out. In 1997, a judge awarded her the full sum of the policy, which was $10,000, stating that not only was Shane dead, but it was unlikely he would be found. Rosa still clings onto hope that this is not the case however and gave this interesting statement- "I just hope and pray that one day I see him. I would give him a hug and kiss and we'd go somewhere -- to Florida, anywhere -- just to get away, just to be with him.''
As I'm sure you've noticed, there are several similarities between Shane and Christopher's disappearances. The fact the live in the same apartment block and were last seen in the same park is probably the most obvious so let's start there. Most of this information is coming from a New York Post article published about the area published in 1991. Built in 1951, the Martin Luther King Jr Towers was originally called Foster Houses but it changed its name in 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. Residents petitioned for the change, not only to honour the civil rights activist but also to reflect the fact that most of its residents were African-American. Often referred to as King Towers, they spanned 3 city blocks and consist of 10 apartment building, each 14 stories high and housing over 3,000 people in total. King Towers is surrounded by greenery and playgrounds, seemingly ideal for children but residents tell another story. One woman who lived there told the New York Post that "If you're going to ride the elevators alone at night, you better go with Jesus." Lena Everett, whose grandson had witnessed his friend being murdered by an armed robber on the nearby Lenox Avenue, stated "The streets around here have gone crazy. There are so many guns around and now they're killing for fun." William Kornblum, a professor at the City University Graduate Centre conducted studies in three apartment blocks including the King towers was quoted as saying "What's wrong with King Towers," said Mr. Kornblum, "has to do with the decline of the social environment of the city and the society. There has been an enormous erosion of opportunities for people who are at the lower end of the scale. We have faltered in our commitment to create communities where everybody gets a share of the good life." The number of major crimes in the King Towers per every 10,000 residents is actually less than that of a similar estate in central Harlem however many blame the area, as opposed to the King Towers themselves. When a police officer attended one of the tenants meeting and said that the crime rate is going down in the towers, residents rebutted stating that that was only because no one was reporting being victims of crime out of fear. Some residents were even concerned about a proposal of the housing association fitting new, larger mail boxes as they feared it would give a mugger the start place to hide and wait for an unsuspecting victim. While it is possible that the kidnapper/s in both or either case were King Tower residents, targeted that park specifically or was complete coincidence, the similarities get stranger.
Both children were around the same age, I, personally, see a strong physical resemble and they went missing 3 months apart in similar circumstances. Both disappearances happened on a Thursday around the same time of day. Admittedly, I found this particular similarity a bit of a stretch and could easily be a coincidence but I wanted to include it anyway. The strangest similarity to me is that the 10 year old girl and her 5 year old brother seen playing with Christopher are the same two children seen playing with Shane, a very odd parallel that senior case manager at the Nation Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Ron Jones, sad was "a hell of a coincidence". Both children were interviewed and claimed to have seen nothing and police did follow up with the children's parents. One officer working the case stated “We’ve investigated the backgrounds of their parents thoroughly and there is no reason to believe they are involved in this conspiracy” I am by no means suggesting that these two children hurt the child themselves, but where they used other people to lure the child to the edge of the park, where someone could have picked them up over the fence and kidnapped them that way? It would be a very devious way for a kidnapper to abduct a child, no one would think twice about seeing three kids playing and walking around a park together, an adult going into the park and walking off with a child would have garnered a lot more attention.
Police initially refuted any theory that the cases where connected as the descriptions of the m ale suspect seen at the scene was different. The man described in Christopher's case was said to be older and taller than the male seen around the park when Shane went missing but that doesn’t mean they aren't related. Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable and it would be easy to underestimate someone's height and age, especially if you are aren't seeing them close up. Also, in all reports, it only mentioned a child seeing a man walk off with Christopher. I couldn’t see anywhere that an adult also gave the same account. I'm not saying that child didn’t see Christopher walk off with the man, but a child's description of a stranger seems a lot less reliable on its own. Eventually, police did connect the dots between the two cases and they put a lot of man power into trying to find the children. 1,800 apartments in a same block of the King Towers where the boys lived were searched with sniffer dogs but no trace of them. Police patrolled the area, dozens of missing persons posters were plastered over Harlem and a sound truck drove around the area, giving details of the disappearances to raise exposure to the cases and a $30,000 reward for information leading to the boys was offered, but from what I have seen, that reward now stands at $2,500. Police question all known sex offenders in the area and followed up on over 500 sightings but still, no sign of the boys.
There are a few popular theories as to what happened to Christopher and Shane. The most common is that they were both abducted and trafficked, possibly into a black market adoption ring. An adoption agent that works for a legit firm commented on this possibility to the media and said “there is a black market for white babies, but for black babies, I don’t think so…” I would have liked if this had been expanded on this but I think that she is eluding to is that black children in America is disproportionally represented, compared to the population. According to the US Department of Education, only 39% of kindergarten aged kids, the most sought after age for people looking to adopt, was made up of non-Hispanic white children and 9% were black African American. Yet, 77% of adoptive parents are non-Hispanic white and on 6% were black. It is also uncommon for a white child to be adopted by a black couple, yet the opposite happens regularly. It doesn’t appear that there is a shortage of black children looking to be adopted however there are people who wouldn’t be approved to adopt who might turn to black market adoptions. Obviously, statistics on black market adoptions are harder to come by but since African American people are discriminated against in so many different aspects of society, it wouldn’t be very surprising to learn that people who kidnap kids in order to sell them would target balck children. It's possible that the disappearances aren’t related but this seems unlikely. When very young children are abducted, it's very possible that someone (more than likely a woman) who can't have kids or has lost a child took them to raise them as their own. This is more common in new-born abductions but is not totally out of the question. Another theory is that Christopher and Shane's cases are linked to the another African American child who disappeared in New York in March 1989. that happened in March 1989 that also resulted in the mothers murder.
Monique Rivera and her partner Timothy Bryant welcome their third son, Andre, into the world on the 17th of February 1989. Their other two kids were Timmy, 7 , and Thomas, 5. Just six weeks after Andre's birth, Monique took her kids out for a walk and encountered and started chatting to two women, who took a particular interest in Andre, asking to hold him on several occasions. she ended up going shopping with. On her return, she showed Timothy the pair of gold slacks and a black blouse she had bought from a shop called Canadians. She told him that the women had used a fraudulent credit card to buy their items. Timothy disapproved but she had already made plans to meet them the next day to go shopping in White Plains. Timothy's sister-in-law, Patricia, came over to their home on the 29th to watch the children so Monique could enjoy their shopping trip. Monique never mentioned the women's names but did mention to Patricia that she went to middle school with one of them. Monique received a phone call from the women who asked her to meet them round the corner and insisted she bring Andrea with her. Monique agreed and she and Andre left the house at 2pm and were seen getting into a 1988 or 1989 burgundy Pontiac Grand Am Sports Edition with tinted windows and possibly Maryland license plates. Both women were African-American and around 5'7. One of the females was approximately 30 years old and heavyset and the other was approximately 22 years old and had long red hair. Sadly, these are the last two people known to see Monique and Andre alive. When she didn’t come home that night, Timothy reported her missing but it wasn't until Timothy put a notice in his local paper that police connected Monique's disappearance to a body that had been found in the woods by the Eastchester Bay, near City Island Road in the Bronx, 19 miles away. She had been strangled and suffered a blow to the head. Police searched the large body of water at the bay but Andre was nowhere to be seen. Its clear by looking at this bay on Google maps that the bay A special hotline was set up, just to receive tips on this case but he is still missing and there has been no leads that have been publicly announced.
It's understandable why people have speculated that Andre's disappearance and Monique's murder are linked to Shane and Christopher's case. Agin, all black children who went missing within a matter of months, however Andre's case doesn’t appear to have as many similarities. The circumstances are different and he was last seen in Brooklyn, as opposed to Harlem. Andre was much younger and in Christopher and Shane's disappearances, they are looking for men, not women. Although, if all three are victims of a trafficking or black market adoption ring, it wouldn’t be a surprise that several people are involved. Andre's family don’t seem to buy into the theory that all three cases are connected, they think it was personal. Simone, Monique's sister commented "I think it's something personal, they know us. It's no stranger." Monique did claim to have known one of the women from middle school but I think it's interesting she never mentioned their names. I just think if you were talking to a family member or a friend about two women you had gone shopping with and were going to meet the next day, it just sense that you would mention their names. This is pure speculation but what if the two women who knew were known to the family and because she knew her family wouldn’t want her hanging out with these women, she made up the story about randomly meeting them. If the two women were unknown to her prior to the 28th of March, it appears to be a crime of opportunity and the two women were just looking to approach any mother and their new-born and just so happened to meet Monique and Andre. Monique would have to have been very trusting of strangers to agree to go shopping with two women she barely knew and I don't think there are a lot of people who would have been. I know it was the 80's and we are a lot vigilant now then people maybe were then but I still don’t think many people would be this trusting which is why I'm leaning towards the theory that she knew them better than she let on. There was been little follow up articles on this case and whatever article have been released, they don’t provide any new details on the case. Timothy, Monique's partner and Andre's father remains hopeful that his son is alive. ‘Hey, you’re my father,’ said Timothy Bryant. “You’ve got to keep hope. You can’t give up hope.” Thomas, who was a young child when his brother disappeared, said “I would like to know what he’s doing with himself. I basically would like him to know he has an actual family. And, you know, I would like to see him….see what kind of man he developed into, see where his life took him.” In 1987, a new born called Carolina White was abducted from a hospital when she was 17 days old. 24 years later, she was reunited with her parents and this gave Timothy hope that one day, he would be reunited with his son. He called Rosemary, Monique's mum to tell her about the case and said "It's a miracle. If only a miracle could happen to us, too."
Here is a quick reminder of the vital statistics of the three boys disappearance;
Shane Walker was last seen on the 10th of August 1989 when he was 19 months old. He last seen playing in the a playground next to the Martin Luther King Tower Projects in Harlem, New York. He was wearing a blue and white shirt and blue trousers and white LA Gear sneakers. His hair was braided and in a ponytail. He has a small scar under chin and is 3'0 and 23 pounds. Police would like to identify a African American man, thought to be seen walking down 111st street with him around 7pm. The man was between 19 and 24-years-old, around 5 feet 8 inches, who was wearing a yellow shirt and acid-washed jeans. There is an age progression photo showing what he might look like at age 28. If still alive, he would be 32 at the time of recording.
Christopher Dansby also went missing from the same playground in Harlem, New York on the 18th of May 1989. He was 2 years old and would also be 32 if alive today. Police are looking to identify a African-American, between 25 and 30 years old, six feet tall and thin, with dreadlocked hair seen in the vicinity of the park when she went missing at 5pm. There is an age progression phot showing what he might look like aged 26. He was 2'6, 30 pounds, A blue jacket, a floral print shirt, blue jeans and green and white sneakers. Christopher has a birthmark shaped like a figure eight on his back and a burn scar on his thigh
Andre Bryant was 6 weeks old and was last seen on the 29th of March 1989, entering a 1988 or 1989 burgundy Pontiac Grand Am Sports Edition with tinted windows and possibly Maryland license plates with his mother Monique Riveria. One of the women in the car was described as being approximately 30 years old and heavyset; and the other was approximately 22 years old and had long red hair. Both were about 5'7 He was wearing a grey suit with two horizontal red lines, a beige knitted hat and sweater, and white socks. He was 48cm long (1'7) and weighed 10lbs. If still alive, he would be 30 years old at the time of recording and there is a composite available shoeing what he might look like aged 28.
If you have any information on Shane, Christopher, Andre or Monique's case, please contact New York City Police Department (New York) - Missing Persons Unit - 1-212-694-7781
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