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Allegheny

Family pleads for help in finding missing Pittsburgh woman

Megan Guza
| Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, 2:42 p.m.
Jessica Young
Jessica Young
Jessica Young
Jessica Young
Jessica Young
Jessica Young
Jessica Young
Jessica Young

Jessica Young has six children and a grandchild waiting for her to visit again.

She has two brothers and a sister, and her great-aunt Katie Bottoms just wants to hug her. She has sewing project to finish.

“She tries to make stuff, but she never finishes it,” Bottoms said.

Young, 35, has been missing for more than five weeks. She was last seen leaving a home in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 12.

Bottoms said she wants to do more to help find her.

“I want to go down there and scream, ‘I know she’s down here, I know, I know, I can feel it,’” Bottoms said, pounding the table of her Upper Lawrenceville home.

Her great-niece is fun-loving and outgoing and speaks her mind. While they hadn’t talked in a while because of things going on in their respective lives, Bottoms said she still kept track of Young.

“I love that girl to death,” she said through tears. “She’s my jewel.”

“There’s just no reason. This doesn’t make sense,” Bottoms said of Young’s disappearance. “This is just so heart-wrenching to even think something happened to her.

Most missing persons cases are solved by this point, said Major Crimes Cmdr. Vic Joseph.

“A vast majority of our cases are cleared within a week – probably 85 percent or so,” he said. “Eight to 10 percent are cleared within a month, and the remaining are cleared within six months. Only occasionally is there a case that last longer than that.”

He said Pittsburgh police get about 1,000 to 1,100 missing person reports each year, including adults, juveniles and runaways. Often, he said, it’s a matter of communication.

“Especially with adults, maybe they just went someplace for the weekend and didn’t communicate that,” he said. “They broke away from normal routine and went to do something.”

With kids, he said, reports often stem from the child not coming home home at the expected time, and they’re found at a friend’s home or elsewhere in short order. Younger children are often found in their own home – under their or tucked away playing a game and their parents couldn’t find them.

Regardless, each case is taken seriously, he said, and it is often all hands on deck from the first report.

Young was reported missing Sept. 19, but the last time anyone had seen or heard from he was a week prior.

“There are certain red flags,” Joseph said. “If they steadily communicate with a certain person – their mom or best friend or whomever — every day and now there’s no contact. If they have a job and consistently go to work and they don’t show up for work.”

Bottoms said her great-niece would never go this long without contacting her family and her children.

Joseph said investigators will comb through an individual’s social media sights for “any signs of them being alive and well.

“Once there’s a lack of that, a lack of activity we can find, that puts up red flags: This person may truly be missing and may truly be in danger,” he said.

Those are the same things that made Bottoms realize her great-niece wasn’t just busy and out of contact.

“First when I heard about it, I was like, ‘Uh-uh, Jessica will be back around,’” she said. “But just the stuff she left behind and things she was supposed to do that she didn’t do – it’s got my alarm up.”

She knows that someone knows something.

“We’re going to do whatever we can do, so if somebody did bother her or something, they better looking out, because we’re not stopping,” she said. “What done in the dark is going to come in the daylight.”

Bottoms said it’s unfathomable that Young has been missing from the family’s life for more than a month.

“We just want her home. We want her here,” she said. “. You never know how much you can miss a person until something happens that you can’t reach out to them, you can’t hug them and hold them anymore.”

Anyone with information regarding Young or her whereabouts is asked to please contact missing persons detectives at 412-323-7142.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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