Holding onto Hope: Milwaukee approaches 20th anniversary of Alexis Patterson's disappearance
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Tuesday, May 3 will mark a solemn anniversary in Milwaukee, reaching 20 years since Alexis Patterson went missing.
Alexis was last seen on her way to Hi-Mount Elementary School on May 3, 2002. She was 7 years old at the time. Since then, she has been missing without a trace.
Twenty years later, the disappearance of Alexis Patterson is a cold case.
For several years, the city of Milwaukee has issued proclamations each month of May in honor of Alexis.
Her mother, Ayanna Patterson, hosted a private memorial on Sunday, May 1, which she called an "awakening."
"It's been twenty years, and this is a hard fight. A hard battle. I'm not giving up ever," Patterson said.
Sunday's special gathering on Milwaukee's north side featured stories, songs, poems and photos, all in honor of Alexis.
Among dozens of family and friends were three of Alexis' former teachers, one of which, Alexis' mother still calls "Miss Lisa." Her real name is Aleisa Quinones, and she has become a close family friend and a voice in Alexis' case.
"No matter if you have to go out of the state or out of the country, I will go with her to help her find her child," Quinones said.
To this day, Ayanna Patterson is certain that her daughter is alive and was previously identified.
"I found my daughter in 2016. Lisa Miller is my daughter," Patterson said.
Six years ago, officials followed a tip that a woman in Ohio might be Alexis. The woman had strikingly similar features, including matching birth marks and a bump on her finger. At the time, police determined the DNA wasn't a match.
Ayanna says she doesn't believe the DNA test was conducted correctly, if at all. She told reporters she has become increasingly frustrated with police's involvement on the case.
I don't depend on the police. I depend on my people," Patterson said.
She maintains that Lisa Miller is really her daughter, but police still say it's not a match, and the case remains cold.
"Believe me. if I say, 'that's my daughter,' believe me because I know mine. I'm not just saying that just to say it. I know my child," Patterson said.
Family and friends are staying supportive, saying gatherings like this are important to keep Alexis' name alive.
"We're still searching for her, and we're going to search until there's no more. We're going to keep fighting until the end," Quinones said.
Holding onto hope and working to get Alexis home after 20 years.
"Alexis, Mama is coming for you, and you know it. She knows. We don't give up," Patterson said.
While Sunday's event was private, there will be a public gathering at Hi-Mount Elementary School on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, the 20th anniversary of Alexis' disappearance. The gathering begins at 9 a.m.
Alexis Patterson's disappearance is still in the hands of Milwaukee Police Department's cold case unit, as well as the FBI.