PINE LAWN – It has been 16 years since Theda Person last saw her son alive.
Person’s 9-year-old, Christian Taylor Ferguson, was reported missing from St. Louis on June 11, 2003, while in the care of Dawan Ferguson, his father and Person’s ex-husband.
On Oct. 3, Ferguson was charged with first-degree murder in St. Louis County for the presumed death of his son.
“It’s a relief to know that finally someone on a prosecutorial level has said something about the tragedy that has my son missing, that has changed my life forever,” Person stated.
“It’s a hard place to be, but I thank God I’m here,” she went on to say.
Person planned to hold a public memorial for her son on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in celebration of what would have been his 26th birthday. She wants people to come together to show their support in seeking justice for Christian.
“The last place where he resided was at 3720 Sylvan [Place] in Pine Lawn, so I plan to place some balloons over there and some things in his memory,” she said.
The home that Person referred to is now a vacant lot.
“Anybody that’s interested in doing that, to show support for the family or even to show that they are looking forward to receiving justice for Christian, can stop by,” she said.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m., a memorial will be set up. Participants are encouraged to bring teddy bears, flowers, balloons or whatever else they might want to contribute.
“It’s my situation, but it’s our situation. It’s a community situation,” Person said.
“We have a responsibility, each and every one of us, to do something in our capacities to address the missing persons epidemic,” she emphasized.
“Nobody should have to wait 16 years for justice,” she added.
Person’s ex-husband told police in 2003 that while using a pay phone, someone stole his SUV with Christian in it.
Ferguson was taken to a police station for questioning but was uncooperative and later released. The SUV was found hours later, but Christian was still missing.
To make matters worse, Christian was born with a severe genetic disorder that resulted in his needing special care and attention around the clock.
According to court documents, Ferguson was awarded full custody of Christian in December 1998.
Person said that while in his father’s care, the boy went into a coma, leaving him mentally disabled, unable to walk and no longer even able to speak.
The documents go on to say that between January 2001 and June 2003, Christian’s father failed to provide him with the proper medicine and nutrition that he needed to survive, although Ferguson was fully aware of his son’s medical condition.
Now, Person has made it her mission to become a passionate advocate for the missing persons epidemic.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there are 1,047 people currently missing across the state.
Christian is included in that number.
But out of that tragedy, the nonprofit Looking For An Angel Inc. was born. Person founded the organization in 2006, working to reunite missing persons with their loved ones and helping families as they trudge through the search process.
“I’m not a miracle worker, but it’s like I’m working miracles, because I’m doing things for them that I couldn’t get done for myself,” she said.
Person said that although the support she offered families with missing loved varied on a case-by-case basis, she hoped to be a resource for those facing a situation similar to her own. She offers assistance by sitting in on a case, attending a vigil or directing a family to resources that they might not know are available.
As a mother who hasn’t seen her child in over a decade, Person, a north St. Louis native, knows all too well how it feels to have a missing loved one.
“The worst thing is knowing that the evidence was known over 15 years ago but yet still nothing happened,” Person said.
Referring to Ferguson’s recent arrest in the cold case, Person said, “It brings me a partial resolution.”
“I feel like change has come, but it’s still coming. It’s a process,” she noted.
Person welcomes anyone who may want to get involved in her work and invites them to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Looking For An Angel Inc., visit www.lookingforanangel.org