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Missing in America

Amber Evans still missing one month after disappearing from Columbus, Ohio

Tonya Fischer told Dateline that her daughter, Amber Evans, is a passionate and intelligent young woman.

“Amber was dedicated. She had passion. She had fire for the cause and work that she did,” said Tonya. “She was determined to heal pains of the world at whatever it took.” Brian Peters, Amber’s father, said it “lifted you up to be around her. She was just a ray of light -- always happy, always chipper, always smiling.”

Amber, 28, has worked for the Juvenile Justice Coalition in Columbus, Ohio since 2015. In January of this year, Amber was promoted to Executive Director. And while she had loved the hands-on aspect of her old job, “The work was getting to Amber,” her mother said. “She was taken off the spectrum of organizing and being in the heart of it all, to the administrative side.” Tonya said Amber did not like feeling as if she was on the sidelines.

On Saturday, January 26, Tonya spoke with her daughter on the phone. They discussed Amber’s plans for her next 20 years. “I said, ‘Amber, tell me what your life is going to be -- your 30 and 40-year-old life -- and how that looks for you.’” Tonya told Dateline that Amber replied, “Mom, I want to go back to Paris and teach the children English again.” Tonya said Amber was the happiest in Paris, where she had worked and studied.

That was the last time Tonya heard from Amber.

Two days after that conversation, on Monday, January 28, Amber went to work. She left after a 5:30 p.m. meeting, telling coworkers she was not feeling well. At 6:30 p.m.. Amber went to a local store where she bought cold medicine and a Snickers bar, according to the store’s security footage. Amber is seen leaving the store, but hasn’t been seen since.

Image: Amber Evans Missing Poster
Amber Evans

Later that evening, Amber’s car was found near the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Police Department says it was discovered near the Scioto Mile area. Amber’s purse was in the trunk. The Columbus Police Department reports that Amber’s vehicle had been found while following up on a reported domestic dispute between Amber and her boyfriend of 10 years. Columbus Police Department Public Information Officer Denise Alex-Bouzounis said that coworkers had described Amber as “distraught when she left her meeting" at the end of the day.

Due to the reported domestic dispute, Columbus Police Department Public Information Officer Denise Alex-Bouzounis said that they consider her to be a “distraught missing person.”

Amber’s cell phone was found the next day in the same area.

Tonya told Dateline that Amber’s boyfriend has been close to the family in the past. “He was very much at every dinner, event, function that we had for our family. The only time he wasn’t, was when he had to work.” She feels, though, that since Amber’s disappearance, he’s become distant. “We have not been on good terms at all.” Columbus Police Department Public Information Officer Alex-Bouzounis says, “the boyfriend has cooperated with investigators and at this point no foul play is suspected there.”

Dateline was unable to reach Amber’s boyfriend for his recollection of events by Monday evening.

“The last clues we have to where she was, was by that river bank,” Alex-Bouzounis told Dateline on Monday. And so the department has had dogs, helicopters, divers, and officers out on foot in the area, but have been unable to locate Amber. PIO Alex-Bouzounis says, “they are still interviewing people and the investigation is still underway.” She added that weather has been an issue for searching the river, but this past weekend they were able to get divers in the water. However, “It snowed a lot here over the weekend and it’s freezing today,” but “they’re making every effort that they can.”

Brian said he believes the police have been slow in investigating his daughter’s case, stating that if they believe Amber is in the water, “They could’ve put a lot more effort in that and ruling it out.” The police confirmed that they did have to delay searches in the early days due to heavy debris, ice and fast-moving waters.

“There is a chance that she could still be alive somewhere, but none of her friends or family have been contacted by her in the month that she’s been missing,” PIO Alex-Bouzounis told Dateline. “They’ve told us, that’s not like Amber -- she’s all about family.”

“The only reason why Amber returned back to Columbus, Ohio was because of her siblings’ graduations,” her mother Tonya told Dateline. “She loved her siblings. She loved family. She loved it all. She was doing this so we could have a better life. She was fighting for everybody to have a better life.”

Amber is African American and was last seen wearing a white parka and black leggings. She is 5’5’’ and weighs 122 lbs. with brown eyes and brown hair. If you have any information on Amber’s case, please contact the Columbus Police Department’s Special Victims Bureau by calling 614-645-4624 or 614-645-4545, or by email jbrammer@columbuspolice.org.