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Family frantic to find Upstate New York woman Destini Smothers month after she disappeared following Queens birthday party

Destini Smothers, 26, had traveled from her home in Troy, New York to Queens to attend a funeral in early November. On November 3, 2020, she was celebrating her birthday with friends at Bowlero, a bowling alley in Queens. She left with her boyfriend, who later told the family that they were in Destini’s black 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid when they got into an argument. He said they were stopped along Grand Central Parkway when she got out of the car, leaving her purse, ID, wallet behind. The New York Police Department and the Troy Police Department are investigating.

UPDATE: In March of 2021, 26-year-old Destini Smothers was found in the trunk of a Toyota Camry with no plates. The medical examiner determined that she died from a gunshot to the head, and according to the Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, the death was ruled a homicide. In April of 2022, Kareem Flake was arrested in Florida and later extradited back to New York. He faced charges including second-degree murder, kidnapping, weapon possession and tampering with evidence. Flake was Destini’s boyfriend and the father of her two children. In July of 2023, Flake pleaded guilty to a first-degree manslaughter charge. In accordance to the plea deal, Flake will be sentenced in September to a prison term of 22 years.


A young mother from upstate New York is still missing nearly a month after she celebrated her 26th birthday with a night out with friends at a bowling alley in Queens.

Destini Smothers, who has two children, lives in Troy, New York, but traveled to Queens to attend a funeral in early November, according to her family.

She never made it to the funeral.

Destini Smothers
Destini SmothersNYPD

Destini was last seen at approximately 11:20 p.m. at Bowlero, a bowling alley at 69-10 34th Avenue in Queens, the NYPD confirmed in a press release to Dateline.

Her friends told police and her family that Destini had left with her boyfriend of 13 years, who was also the father of her children. He told Destini’s family that they had gotten into an argument while in Destini’s black 2011 Toyota Camry on the Grand Central Parkway and Destini got out and walked away, leaving her purse, wallet, keys and ID behind.

“She would have never walked away without her things,” Destini’s aunt, Shareen King, told Dateline. “And in the middle of the night. It’s not like her.”

Shareen, along with Destini’s cousins, are crushed over her disappearance. And frustrated that 27 days have passed without any answers.

“It’s been 27 days and nothing,” Destini’s cousin, Dominique Fowler Washington told Dateline. “It’s draining. We’re tired. We just want to know where our cousin is.”

Destini’s family told Dateline they knew something was wrong when she didn’t arrive at her mother’s home in the Bronx to grab her clothes for the funeral on November 5. Her two children were also staying there.

“She loves those children and would do anything for them,” Shereen said. “She wouldn’t just leave them. And there’s no way in hell she’s not calling her mama. My sister is just devastated.”

Shareen told Dateline that when they tried to file a missing person report with the NYPD, officers told them they needed to contact police in Troy, New York, where Destini is from. But police in Troy directed her to the NYPD.

“It was a lot of unnecessary back and forth and precious time was wasted,” Shareen said. “Time that could have been spent to find my niece.”

Both agencies are now jointly investigating Destini’s disappearance.

Detective Russell Clements with the Troy Police Department told Dateline that officers conducted a wellness check at her home in Troy, but she was not there.

“We’ll continue to follow up on any tips and leads we receive,” Det. Clements said. “But this is mainly the NYPD’s case. But our hope remains that someone who knows something will come forward.”

The NYPD confirmed to Dateline that Destini’s case is an open and active investigation and request that those with information should call police.

Destini Smothers in the outfit she was last seen wearing on November 3, 2020.
Destini Smothers in the outfit she was last seen wearing on November 3, 2020.NYPD

For weeks, Destini’s family has plastered missing person fliers in Woodside and Astoria, talking to people, hoping they saw something. They called hospitals and jails in Queens and Brooklyn. But there has been no trace of Destini.

Destini’s family told Dateline that the Toyota Camry Destini was last seen in is also missing, but Detective Clements told Dateline there are discrepancies with the whereabouts of the vehicle and would not release further details.

Destini’s family told Dateline they are worried she is being held against her will or that someone has hurt her.

A rally will be held on December 17 at the bowling alley in an effort to spread awareness of Destini’s disappearance and to gain the attention of local elected officials. They hope the case will then be turned over to the FBI.

“But we hope we have answers before then,” Dominique said. “We can’t go through another holiday without my cousin.”

Destini’s family told Dateline they hope with more attention on her case and more eyes looking for her, they’ll get answers soon.

“It’s been 27 days, but it feels like we’re still on day one because we don’t have any answers,” Shareen said. “We need to find her. We need to find her now.”

Destini is 5’1” tall, weighs approximately 160 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. She has a tattoo that reads “Kareem Junior” on her right wrist. Destini was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with yellow and white lettering on the front, green camouflage jeans, light brown boots, and gold hoop earrings in both ears. She was last seen carrying a green handbag.

Anyone with information on Destini’s whereabouts is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or on Twitter @NYPDTips.