It’s been almost two weeks since Ciera Milton saw her 17-year-old daughter, Zion Foster.
“Zion is very artistic, very fun,” Ciera told Dateline. “She can draw, she can sing, she can play instruments -- she plays the flute and the drums.”
As the eldest of six children, Zion is “always looking out for her siblings, her family and her loved ones,” Ciera said. “She helps out with a lot of things and encourages people.”
On the evening of January 4, 2022, Zion went to work at the Detroit Wing Company in Eastpointe, Michigan, and was picked up by Ciera’s boyfriend when her shift was done, around 10 p.m.
Ciera told Dateline that Zion hadn’t been working there too long, but that she was happy. “You know, she was starting to make friends, she was making money. And she was super excited to be able to do things for herself, or purchase things for her siblings.”
After Zion got home that night, she and her five siblings spent some time in Ciera’s bedroom. “We were having our little pow-wow, like we normally do,” Ciera said. “Some jokes, talking about the day and things like that.”
That’s when Ciera said Zion asked if she could go hang out with a cousin from her father’s side of the family.
Ciera told Dateline Zion was picked up around 10:45 p.m. and that she only took a little purse and her phone with her. “She didn’t leave with a jacket, her coat was actually at the house.”
Ciera said Zion sent her a text at 12:59 a.m. saying “omw” to let her know that she was on her way home. “My phone shows, you know, our location – all of my kids locations are shown,” Ciera told Dateline. “Twenty minutes after texting me that she was on her way home, she still wasn’t there.”
Ciera didn’t know what to do. She told Dateline, “Zion kept in contact with anybody and everybody. You know, she wouldn’t say, ‘I’m on my way back home,’ and not come. She wouldn’t want me to worry.”
So Ciera went to the Eastpointe Police precinct.
Detective Lieutenant Robert Koenigsmann of the Eastpointe Police confirmed to Dateline that “it was reported by the mother on January 5, 2022.” The detective also confirmed that they’ve verified that Zion was last seen at a house in Detroit. “The typical procedure in our department, we take the report down. The report is then verified by the officer and it’s sent to the on-duty command officer. From there, they review the call for service, and then they send it down to the detective bureau, and then a detective is assigned,” Detective Lt. Koenigsmann told Dateline. “So that’s what happened - and usually that transpires within a 24-hour period.”
When Dateline spoke to Detective Lt. Koenigsmann on Tuesday, January 18, he noted that both the Detroit Police and the FBI were involved in the investigation into Zion’s disappearance.
“We’ve executed numerous search warrants related to this case,” Detective Lt. Koenigsmann said. So far nothing has been found to lead them to Zion. In addition, he told Dateline, “Everything that the mom has given us information-wise, we’ve looked at or are looking at. Or it’s led us to different areas to look at.” Detective Lt. Koenigsmann confirmed to Dateline that no one has been named a suspect or person of interest in the case.
Detective Lt. Koenigsmann said they’ve received quite a lot of tips regarding Zion’s case, but continue to ask for the public’s help. “Tips from people in the public help very much, because even though they may think it’s small, it may help us in a big way,” the detective said. “So any information that the public has given us up to this point, we’ve looked at. Some of it is a dead-end, and some of it might be a piece of the puzzle we might need.”
On Wednesday, January 19, the Detroit Police held a press conference, at which Chief James E. White announced their department would take lead on Zion’s case, “as she was likely last seen in Detroit.” The Eastpointe Police and the FBI will continue to support the investigation.
Chief White stated that investigators were interested in speaking to Zion’s cousin, Jaylin Brazier, whom he described as a person of interest. “We would like to know if he has seen her,” the chief said, “Or if he has any information that could lead to her whereabouts.”
On Wednesday night, the Detroit Police Facebook post of the press conference was updated to note that Brazier had turned himself in for questioning.
At the press conference earlier in the day, Chief White asked for the community’s help in finding Zion. “Any communication, any correspondence, any social media, any correspondence,” he urged. “We would ask your help in identifying where she’s located.”
Zion’s mother, Ciera, is also pleading for help in finding her daughter. “I’m grateful for those that, you know, stand up, give any information they possibly can to assist the case. I’m grateful for the people that are passing out fliers and sending up prayers. And even sending food,” Ciera told Dateline. “It’s a lot of kids I have, it’s a lot of stress and it’s a lot of, you know, you try to stay strong and you try to make sure your kids are good and that they’re still believing, but my kids are hurting, my kids are crying, my kids are worried. So I’m just grateful for the support that we do get.”
Zion is described as being 5’1” and weighing 120 lbs. Zion has a tattoo of “777” on her neck and straight hair extensions below her shoulders. According to Ciera, Zion was last seen wearing a black sweater with the Detroit Wing Company logo on it, black pants, and black shoes.
Anyone with information on Zion’s whereabouts is asked to call the Detroit Police Department at 313-596-2260.
Editor’s note: Updated to include a change in investigating agencies on Zion’s case.