AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A local family hopes twins reported missing in Augusta nearly 30 years ago return home now that the case received national attention.
The podcast is only part of what’s giving the family hope.
DNA and a one on one interview with the Richmond County Sheriff are both new starts to a long awaited turn around in the case.
These are just some of the ways the hosts of a podcast helped a local family hope for the best.
Augusta twins Jeannette and Dannette Millbrook received very little media attention after they were last seen March 18, 1990. But after seven episodes of a podcast called The Fall Line, the family is getting movement they feel might be enough to bring the girls home.
“I’ll never give up hope,” said Mary “Miss Louise” Sturgis, who is 62 now. She has not seen or hugged her daughters in 27 years.
“Jeannette, she was a cautious person and she was a good student,” she told NewsChannel 6. “Dannette was a good child too.”
All she has are memories now of Jeannette and Dannette Millbrook. The fraternal twins have not been seen since Sunday, March 18, 1990. NewsChannel 6 sat down with their mother and sister, Shanta Sturgis, who shared their story and how they are finally getting a little help bringing the girls who vanished at 15 home.
Shanta told us, “My mom got worried and then she kept saying something isn’t right. They haven’t gotten back yet?”
Shanta explained how the twins went missing. She said that Sunday the Millbrook twins left Jennings Home where they lived to walk to their Godfather’s home on Forest Street in the Bethlehem neighborhood. Sturgis, who was 12 at the time, said her sisters made the trek to Forest Street so their Godfather could hand them 20 bucks to ride the city bus to and from Lucy C. Laney High School. The family told The Fall Line podcast hosts, Laurah Norton and Brooke Blank, that they did not have enough money to put the girls on a city bus, but their Godfather helped financially. The family also said they did not want to switch schools mid-semester, but the twins were zoned for Josey High School in their new neighborhood.
That walk included other stops to see family and friends who say the girls wanted company.
After the twins picked up the money on Forest Street, stops were made on Tin Cup Lane to a minor’s home and to their older sister’s home on Picquet Avenue.
“When my sister told them that she couldn’t walk with them because she hadn’t been too long had a baby, they left her house walking and went to the Pump-N-Shop store and they got drinks. Soda and chips,” Shanta Sturgis said.
The gas station on 12th Street and MLK is formerly Pump-N-Shop, according to Shanta Sturgis. Her mother told us the girls were seen buying those snacks by a gas station attendant. That attendant told us the girls were normal that day, but that’s all she remembered. She cannot recall if someone picked them up or what direction they walked in when they left.
But they never returned home and for 23 years the case remained dormant.
“I have called constantly trying to get somebody to listen, but nobody would listen,” Sturgis said of Richmond County Sheriff’s Office before the case was reopened in 2013.
Sturgis told us Jeannette looks like a facial reconstruction of remains found in Aiken, SC, a Jane Doe she saw on NewsChannel 6 in the 90s. The podcasters told us the coroner’s office there confirmed those remains have been taken to Columbia, SC to see if DNA can be extracted.
“When they put it up there and when they showed it I said oh my God this person kind of favors Jeannette,” Shanta said.
While the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case in 2013, the Sturgis family said that new investigator no longer works there.
Norton said she and Blank sent dozens of letters to local businesses and community leaders to consider offering reward money to get people talking. The family remains hopeful.
“I just hope they be alive.”
We reached out to Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton about news that his office took those Jane Doe remains to Columbia for DNA extraction. We are still waiting on his call back. Sturgis said the family talks with Sheriff Roundtree one-on-one Friday.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps