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The relatives of a missing Connecticut mother are struggling to cope with her disappearance as the community assists them in trying to find her.
Jessica Edwards, 30, vanished on the morning of May 10, according to a South Windsor Police Department press release. Sgt. Mark Cleverdon said at a press conference that Edwards' husband was the last known person to see her that morning, NBC News reports. Her mother and sister last saw her on Mothers Day.
Now those relatives are in turmoil.
Activist the Rev. Cornell Lewis, who has organized search efforts for Edwards, told Oxygen.com on Thursday that “her mother can’t eat. Literally.”
“Her sister said food hurts when it goes down,” he said. “The brother too, he has trouble eating. There’s a lot of anguish.”
Lewis said there was also anguish over what he feels was a lack of concern for Edwards when she first went missing.
“When the white female Jennifer Dulos went missing, a lot of resources were given,” he said, referencing the notorious case of a wealthy Connecticut mom who vanished in 2019. Police believe her estranged husband killed her.
“We couldn’t get the police to respond,” Lewis told Oxygen.com. A spokesperson for the South Windsor Police Department has not immediately responded for comment.
Lewis said he told the community, “I’ll be quite honest, this is a Black female missing and they don’t seem to care.’ We said plainly that the power structure doesn’t care, that we have to care. Then the people came out and they searched long and hard.”
For more than a week, Lewis has led searches in wooded areas, parks and river banks. More than 100 people have shown up at various times. These citizens have come with drones, kayaks and cadaver dogs. They have been looking for clothing, mounds in the earth or freshly disturbed dirt.
Still, he said, the family is holding out hope that Edwards is alive.
“It would be great if she turned up,” he said. “It would relieve a lot of suffering.”
It's not clear if authorities believe there is any foul play. Police tweeted that Edwards left her home with an “unknown person,”
Edwards had called out of her clinical training at Hartford Hospital hours before she vanished. The clinical training was part of a class she was taking at a community college. Her sister Yanique Edwards told the Hartford Courant that Edwards emailed her professor at about 2:20 a.m. on Monday, saying she would not be attending. Yanique told the outlet she found it stranger that her sister did not also notify a representative at the hospital.
Edwards is the mother of a 7-month-old son. Lewis, who spent Friday morning handing out fliers of the mom, told Oxygen.com that her family doesn’t believe that she would ever abandon her son.
“She’s thoughtful and gentle,” Lewis said. “And I can see where she gets it from: her family. They are very humble and kind people. The people at the hospital spoke highly of her.”
"The community needs to keep pressure on authorities to supply the resources," Lewis said, adding that he's moved by the thoughtfulness of caring citizens thus far.
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