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It's been nearly seven years since 23-year-old Phoenix Coldon backed out of her driveway one Sunday afternoon in December – never to be seen by her family again.
Her 1998 black Chevy Blazer was found several hours later in a crime-ridden area of East St. Louis, reportedly still running, with the key in the ignition and the driver side door open. Coldon's glasses and a pair of shoes were inside but there was no trace of Coldon herself.
In the years that followed, there's been few clues and little media coverage into the disappearance of the vibrant and beautiful woman who has been described by her family as deeply religious and musically talented.
Her family is still desperate for answers about what happened to her that day and where the daughter they love could be now.
"I never knew there were so many tears in my body," her mother, Goldia Coldon said in a preview for "The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon," a two-night special event premiering Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4 at 7/6c.
Featuring investigative reporter Shawndrea Thomas and retired deputy Police Chief Joe Delia, the special investigates possible leads and exposes new details while including rare access to Coldon's parents, and close friends.
"She was a very complex young woman," Thomas told Oxygen.com. "With all the things we uncovered about her life, I just could not imagine having that much going on myself at 23 years old."
Coldon grew up as an only child to Goldia and Lawrence Coldon. The family lived in a modest ranch in Spanish Lake, Missouri, an area just north of St. Louis. Her parents described Coldon, who was mostly home-schooled, as a quiet and inquisitive child, according to a 2012 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
She played the guitar, violin and piano and was a local junior fencing champion. Her family described her as deeply religious and said she had been to church with her mother the day she disappeared.
After church, Coldon played basketball outside on the unseasonably warm December day before she was seen sitting in her car. Her mother told the Post-Dispatch she had a habit of sitting in her truck and making phone calls.
Her father, Lawrence Coldon, said he last saw his daughter at about 3 p.m. that afternoon, when he saw her pulling out of the driveway.
"I saw her back out of the driveway and she never returned," Coldon, a retired computer systems engineer said, in the preview for “The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon.”
He has said previously that he thought his daughter was going to the convenience store around the corner or maybe to a friend's house but when she didn't return, her family began to worry.
"At midnight, my wife said something was wrong," Lawrence Coldon told the Post-Dispatch in 2012. "It was kind of out of character for Phoenix to go out without telling us."
The next day they called friends, family and hospitals before contacting police. Although Coldon's vehicle had been found in East St. Louis at 5:27 p.m. on the day she vanished abandoned and allegedly still running in the middle of St. Clair Avenue, it would be two weeks before a family friend would find the car in an East St. Louis tow lot, the paper reported.
Coldon's family has voiced frustration with police about the two weeks between the time the car had been towed and when they discovered it themselves and has said they lost critical time when progress could have been made in the search.
"We would've had a two-week head start if we'd known where the car was," Lawrence Coldon told the Post-Dispatch.
The car was found in the jurisdiction of the East St. Louis Police Department in Illinois, which is across the state line from Coldon's Missouri home.
Police Officer Benjamin Granda, a media relations officer for the St. Louis County Police Department in Missouri, told Oxygen.com, the delay was due to the timing of the vehicle being found and Phoenix being reported missing.
"The vehicle was located and towed prior to Phoenix being reported missing. As a result, the license plate and vehicle were not flagged in the system," he said.
The family has also been disappointed by the lack of media coverage and has questioned whether race played a role in the limited media attention that their daughter's case received.
"If Phoenix had looked like Natalee Holloway, though, we would not have had this problem," Goldia Coldon said in the preview for “The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon,” referring to the 18-year-old who vanished in 2005 while on a class trip to Aruba.
Thomas said from what she knows about the case that it appears that all activity on Phoenix's bank accounts, social media accounts and cell phones stopped the day she disappeared.
In the days and years that have followed, a picture has emerged of a complicated woman with a number of secrets she had worked hard to conceal.
"I think that none of her friends truly knew her. They only knew certain parts of her," Thomas told Oxygen.com, adding that she had friends across multiple social circles, including church friends, fencing friends, college friends and other friends who lived a "rough" life, who all knew some components of her life.
There were things she kept from her conservative parents including a "secret boyfriend."
After her disappearance, her family learned that when she was 18 she had lived with a man while attending Missouri Baptist University, although she had always maintained her roommate was a female friend, according to CNN.
She had moved back in with her parents about 6 months before she disappeared; however, Thomas said their investigation uncovered "a couple of guys that she was dating" that her parents weren't fully aware of in the months before she vanished.
Cell phone records indicate that one man who said he was her boyfriend had talked with her extensively before she disappeared. On December 17, 2011, the day before she'd go missing, the man talked with Coldon ten times, the last call lasting 116 minutes, according to The Vanished podcast, which featured Coldon's case in 2016.
On the day she went missing, there was a six-minute incoming call from the number linked to her boyfriend and a one-minute outgoing call to the number, the podcast reported.
Goldia Coldon has said in the past during an interview with the Post-Dispatch that she doesn't believe the boyfriend had anything to do with the disappearance but said he may have introduced her to the wrong people.
Her parents also believed Coldon was taking classes at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; but they later learned she had dropped her classes and was no longer enrolled there, CNN reported.
"That timeframe of six months prior to her disappearance was a timeframe where she started to unravel," Thomas said.
In the years that have passed since she vanished, Coldon's parents have been desperate to find her and still keep up a Christmas tree year-round with the gifts they purchased for their daughter tucked underneath it.
"When I met her, Goldia, for the first time, I felt like she was very lost," Thomas said. "She seemed broken without her daughter being there with her."
Her family even fell victim to a hoax that cost them their life savings. Goldia Coldon told CNN she had hired a private investigator to follow a tip they'd received, only to learn later the man who had given them the tip had just been trying to gain attention.
As a result, they were forced to move out of their house.
"It's just a house. It's not a home anymore because Phoenix is not here," Goldia Coldon told CNN.
The passing days have brought little relief for her family, who still holds onto hope that their daughter is alive.
Granda said detectives have exhausted every lead, tip or bit of evidence that has surfaced during the course of the investigation.
"Phoenix has not been forgotten by any means," he told Oxygen.com of law enforcement's efforts. "Our department is ready and prepared to dedicate any and all resources necessary should additional information become available in this case."
Thomas hopes the renewed interest in the case may finally give the family the answers they deserve.
"I hope that telling this story will help generate more leads in the case," she said. "I am hoping that the parents can ultimately get full resolution to what happened with their daughter."
[Photo: Provided by Goldia Coldon]
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