Shamari Brantley, a 22-year-old woman from Wheaton, Illinois, has been missing since late August 2023. Brantley’s disappearance has confounded her family and law enforcement officials, who continue searching for answers over a month later.
Background on Shamari Brantley
According to her family, Brantley has been diagnosed with several mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, and bipolar disorder. She had been prescribed medication for these illnesses but was apparently off her medication when she went missing.
Brantley’s mother, Bernice Brantley, told reporters that her daughter had a history of wandering off for a day or two but would always eventually return home. However, Shamari did not return this time, leaving her family extremely concerned.
Disappearance in Late August
Shamari Brantley was last seen on August 27, 2023, in Wheaton. Her family reported her missing shortly thereafter once it became clear she would not return on her own.
The Brantley family was not sure where Shamari may have gone. With her mental health issues, she could have become disoriented or confused about her whereabouts. Her family considered her disappearance highly out of character this time, even given her history of brief wanderings.
The Search Effort Ramps Up
In early September, fliers with Shamari Brantley’s photo and physical description were posted around Wheaton and the surrounding suburbs. Her family also started a social media campaign, reaching out on Facebook to spread the word about Shamari’s disappearance.
Law enforcement officials attempted to track Brantley’s phone and financial records for clues on her whereabouts. However, these efforts yielded little useful information during the weeks after she went missing.
A Potential Sighting in New York
The first major break in the case came in early October, over a month after Shamari’s initial disappearance.
On October 2nd, her cell phone was discovered on a subway platform in the Bronx, New York City. This suggested Brantley could have traveled nearly 800 miles from her home in suburban Illinois to New York City when she was missing.
While surprising, this news gave Brantley’s family their first real lead. Bernice Brantley said she always had a feeling her daughter may have ended up in New York City, given her fascination with the metropolis.
The Family Travels to New York to Search
Upon hearing the news of the cell phone discovery, Shamari’s family immediately drove over 800 miles from Illinois to New York City to aid in the search effort.
“As soon as we heard her phone was found in New York, we dropped everything and got in the car,” said Brantley’s aunt, Keisha Thompson. “We knew we had to do whatever we could to try to find her.”
The family spent days posting fliers throughout the Bronx neighborhood where her phone was found. They also canvassed homeless shelters and walked the streets looking for any sign of Shamari.
Ongoing Questions and Concerns
While the cell phone discovery provides confirmation that Shamari likely made her way to New York City, many questions remain unanswered.
It is still unclear how she traveled such a long distance from suburban Illinois or why she chose to go to New York. Her family continues to grapple with why she would leave home again but, this time, not return.
There is also concern that Brantley could be in danger without her medication, especially if she lives on the streets of New York. Her family desperately hopes to find her so she can receive medical treatment again.
The NYPD and Illinois law enforcement are working together to follow up on any leads. But so far, there have been no other confirmed sightings of Shamari Brantley since her phone was discovered.
Her family remains committed to searching for her and bringing her home safely. They encourage anyone with information to contact the National Missing Persons Helpline at 1-800-THE-LOST. For now, the search continues, as many questions remain unanswered in the disappearance of Shamari Brantley.