Nearly two months have passed since 44-year-old Dawnita Wilkerson disappeared and her family fears she’s in danger.
“We just feel like something is wrong,” Dawnita’s aunt, Julia Womack, told Dateline. Otherwise, she would have gotten in contact with one of us.”
Dawnita, a mother of six children, ages 15 to 22, her two youngest being 15-year-old twin girls, has been missing since Father’s Day.
Julia told Dateline that Dawnita had been staying at her brother’s house in Evansville, Indiana. On that day, June 21, she walked out of the house saying she would be right back. She never came back.
Julia said the twins were the first to notice their mother was missing.
“She’s always in contact with the twins,” Julia said. “But suddenly they couldn’t reach her. And her phone went dark around 9 a.m. on Monday.”
Julia added that Dawnita always called her mother every morning. But on that Monday, there was no call.
“Every day she calls her mom at 5 a.m.,” Julia said. “Somebody always knows where she is. And suddenly everybody just stopped hearing from her. We knew something had to be wrong.”
The family reported Dawnita missing to the Evansville Police Department, who conducted multiple searches and requested help from the community.
In July, detectives met with the family to brief them on the case, but the family said they are not authorized to discuss details for fear of harming the investigation.
Detective Dexter Wolf with the Evansville Police Department did confirm to Dateline that Dawnita’s case is still an open investigation and police are following up on every tip and lead they receive.
Julia, who lives in Georgia, has been back and forth to Indiana to help take care of her niece’s children and to aid in the search efforts to find Dawnita. She told Dateline that detectives said they have a few leads, but the family is still left with many unanswered questions.
“We just want her back,” Julia said. “Whoever took her, just bring her back. We have forgiven - but now we just need her back.”
Julia describes her niece as a strong, funny person with a “heart of gold.”
“She’s been through a lot, but she’s a survivor,” Julia added. “She’s not perfect, but she’s ours and we just want her home.”
Last weekend, hundreds of people attended an event called "Show Up For Dawnita" to raise awareness and funds for the family's search efforts. The family said they are hoping to raise enough money to offer a reward for information that leads to Dawnita’s whereabouts.
Through donations from the community, thousands of fliers have been printed and two billboards have been purchased and put up at prominent locations in town, with Dawnita’s photos and information.
Julia said that during her recent research on missing people, she has learned a lot about how cases are handled and hopes to use her situation to one day help other families.
“People don’t always pay attention until it happens to you, or someone you love,” Julia said. “If it were your mother or your sister or niece, wouldn’t you want help, too? We want to be able to give families a voice who may not have one.
Dawnita’s disappearance has been an emotional roller coaster for the entire family, but Julia said they are trying to remain positive.
“I know she’s out there,” Julia said. “It’s time to bring her home.”
Dawnita is 5’3” and weighs approximately 145 pounds. She has brown eyes and dark hair.
Anyone who may have information on Dawnita’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Evansville Police Department’s Adult Investigative Unit at 812-436-7979 or call the Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463).