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Saturday marked 16 years since Teresa Dean vanished

Teresa Dean, 11, left her home on August 15th, 1999 after telling her mom she was going to see a neighbor's puppies and visit a friend. She never returned.
Teresa Dean pictured at 11-year-old (left) alongside an age progression photo of what she may look like at 19 (right).
Teresa Dean pictured at 11-year-old (left) alongside an age progression photo of what she may look like at 19 (right).National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Saturday marked 16 years without answers as to what happened to then 11-year-old Teresa Dean.

Teresa was last seen walking to a friend’s home not too far from her own around 4:00 on the afternoon of August 15, 1999, by one of her neighbors in Macon, Georgia. The outgoing young girl, whom her mother described to a local reporter at the time as, “everyone’s best friend,” said she was going to see a neighbor’s puppies, then to visit a friend.

“She was in and out like she usually does,” Dorothy Dean, Teresa’s mother, told The Macon Telegraph the year after Teresa vanished. “She said, ‘Bye, Momma, I’ll see you later,’ and then she left.”

But later never came. When police arrived that evening, there was no sign of the young girl.

“Drove up and spoke to Dorothy Dean, Teresa's mother. She was kind of frantic, a little bit, to say that her daughter left and went down to a friend's house earlier in the evening and never showed up back home," Captain Chip Stokes, Twigg’s County chief investigator, told NBC affiliate WMGT last week.

Police, along with officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, conducted multiple searches of the miles of wooded area surrounding the mobile home park where the family was living. No clues as to what happened to Teresa were found.

There has been speculation online that Teresa’s case may be linked to the cases of two other young girls who went missing near the same area in 2001 and 2003. Some web sleuths say that, at the time, there was construction near the trailer parks where the three girls all vanished, and that a construction worker or workers could have been involved. However, police have never released any solid evidence to support the theory, according to the Charley Project.

Twiggs County Sheriff Darren Mitchum told WMGT that although their leads have run cold, they are continuing to investigate. "I could not imagine having a son or daughter that just vanishes. I don't believe people just vanish off of the face of the earth. Something happened to them and most of the time, somebody knows what.”

If you have any information that can help crack this case, please contact the Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office at (478) 945-3357.