The search continues for a missing Indiana woman who family members say “vanished into thin air” on the first day of her new job.
Najah Ferell, 30, of Avon, Ind., was scheduled to start her 5 a.m. shift at a Panera Bread restaurant in Indianapolis but never made it there. The woman’s relatives grew especially concerned when the mother-of-five failed to pick her foster children up from school later that day.
“I knew then … I said something is wrong, ’cause that’s not Najah,” Ferrell’s mother, Paula Gholson, told local station WTHR.
Ferrell’s fiancé was the last person to see her before she headed to work on the morning of March 15, Gholson said, adding that she doesn’t believe he actually saw her daughter leave the house. The concerned mother said Ferrell’s cell phone, car and purse are also missing.
“She got up for work and told (her fiancé ) to get the kids out, ’cause she had to go in and he said that’s the last time he saw her,” Gholson explained.
In an interview with NBC’s Dateline, Ferrell’s younger sister Azaria Joseph said their mother initially reported the 30-year-old missing to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department because they thought something had happened to her at her new job, which is about 30 miles west of her home in suburban Avon. After learning she had never made it in, the family contacted the Avon Police Department, as that is where Ferrell was last seen by her fiancé, two sons and three foster kids.
“In the absence of any information to suggest that anyone knows where she’s at, foul play is at the forefront of our theories,” Avon Police Department Detective Brian Nugent told Dateline. “For her to be away this long unexplained, unplanned — foul play is certainly a possibility.”
Nugent noted that authorities have not named any suspects in Najah’s disappearance at this time and that all interviewed parties, including Ferrell’s family, neighbors and fiancé, have been cooperative with the investigation.
“We’re using the phrase, ‘It’s like she vanished into thin air,’ but I want to say right here and now: There’s no such thing,” said Ferrell’s aunt Rhondel Gowdy. “Somebody knows something. It’s impossible that nobody knows anything.”
Authorities are now hoping that someone has spotted Ferrell’s black 2018 Nissan Altima with dark tinted windows and an Indiana plate number of XOM936. Local police are also working with Ferrell’s cell phone provider in hopes of getting a ping on the missing woman’s cellphone, however, the process has run into delays.
“We are running into slow response from the cell phone company to give us the data we need,” Nugent said. “That certainly has been a very frustrating part of the process for us.”
Ferrell’s relatives said they’re trying to remain patient with local law enforcement working the case, especially as the department’s resources have been stretched thin due to an unrelated missing persons case in Indianapolis.
“This is a priority for our investigators,” Nugent told Dateline. “This is not something that we take lightly. We’re invested with the families 100 percent and investigators are working around the clock.”
Ferrell is described as being 5’4”, African-American and weighing about 180 lbs. Anyone with information on her disappearance are asked to call Crime Stoppers of Indiana at 317-262-TIPS.
“I just really want my sister to come back home,” a tearful Joseph told WTHR. “I don’t want to open my eyes anymore unless she’s here.”
Watch more in the video below.