The day Phoenix Coldon vanished began much like any other Sunday. But by the day's end, the 23-year-old had disappeared. She has not been seen by her family since.
For years the same timeline of that day has held steady, but new details are emerging from "The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon," a two-night special event premiering on November 3 at 7/6c on Oxygen.
By all accounts, Coldon began the morning of December 18, 2011 by attending church with her mother, Goldia Coldon.
Goldia Coldon, would later tell TVONE.TV that her daughter sat two pews behind her in service that day. After the service, Goldia Coldon went to the church parlor for fellowship, while Phoenix went out to the parking lot and waited in the truck, telling her mom "don't stay too long."
After church, they'd stop at a grocery store. Investigative journalist Shawndrea Thomas— who appears in "The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon" with retired deputy Police Chief Joe Delia—told Oxygen.com that Phoenix Coldon would make her last phone call, according to phone records, while at the store.
When the pair returned to their Spanish Lake, Missouri home, just north of St. Louis, Goldia Coldon said her daughter went outside to play basketball. She would later tell CNN in 2013 she remembered thinking how it reminded her of a younger version of the daughter she had homeschooled most her life.
"Where has time gone?" she told CNN she was thinking as she watched her daughter shoot hoops.
A short time later, Phoenix Coldon got into her 1998 black Chevy Blazer. Her parents said it wasn't unusual for her to sit in the vehicle to make phone calls and they assumed that was what she was doing. Although Goldia Coldon would later tell CNN because the vehicle was tinted she could only see her silhouette.
It's at this point that accounts of Coldon's activities that day differ. Her parents have long maintained that her father, Lawrence Coldon, saw his daughter pull out of the driveway at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
"I saw her back out of the driveway and she never returned," the retired computer systems engineer said in a preview for the Oxygen special airing Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4 at 7/6c.
Police Officer Benjamin Granda, a media relations officer for the St. Louis County Police Department, also told Oxygen.com Coldon was last seen at approximately 3 p.m.
Lawrence Coldon told the St. Louis Post Dispatch at the time he thought his daughter was going to a convenience store near their home or a friend's house and said although she usually told them where she was going, it didn't strike him as odd at the time.
She was wearing a black or dark blue hooded sweatshirt, gray sweatpants with the word "Lindenwood" or the letters "UMSL" on one leg, and black sneakers, according to The Charley Project.
However, Thomas told Oxygen.com new information from a witness in the neighborhood suggests an alternate timeline that implies Coldon could have left the neighborhood later in the afternoon.
Her best friend's mom reported seeing Coldon, who she says she spoke with briefly, driving out of the neighborhood around 4:30 or 4:45 p.m.
"She sees Phoenix literally drive away," Thomas said.
Regardless of which timeline is correct, a person found Coldon's SUV abandoned in the middle of the road and called police at 5:27 p.m. An officer was dispatched a minute later and arrived on the scene at 5:42 p.m., according to the police report.
The SUV was in the middle of St. Clair Avenue, a crime-ridden area of East St. Louis, Illinois, that was about a 30-minute drive from Coldon's home.
"It was found in the traffic lane," Goldia Colden said on an episode of Real Talk With Tamara, a television show that explored the case.
East St. Louis Police Officer Kendall Perry filled out a police report indicating that the car had been abandoned.
"After making sure that the vehicle was not stolen, I advised the dispatcher to contact the tow company in reference to towing the vehicle," Perry wrote, according to the Post-Dispatch.
She would never be seen by her family again and no other DNA, outside of the Coldon family, would be found in the vehicle, Thomas told Oxygen.com.
The varying timelines change how much time Coldon would have had between leaving her house and the car being abandoned.
"If she left at 4:45 p.m.—between 4:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. —she had to have taken that car straight to East St. Louis, because it takes about 30 minutes to get there," Thomas said.
Thomas said police have pinged her cell phone, but declined to share details publically about the route she may have taken in an effort not to impede the investigation.
Although the area the vehicle was discovered was a depressed area with high crime, Thomas said Coldon did have several connections to East St. Louis. Her grandmother lived there at the time.
"She wasn't completely blind to the area of East St. Louis," Thomas said.
Her reason for being there that day remains a mystery.
The Coldon family has said during their appearance on Real Talk With Tamara that no one from the East St. Louis Police Department ever tried to notify the family or locate the vehicle's owner. It would be two weeks before a family friend would look up the vehicle and be able to locate it in a tow yard.
Lawrence Coldon told the Post Dispatch he didn't become concerned about his daughter until about midnight that night when his wife came to tell him she thought "something was wrong."
The Coldons contacted police the next day, but nearly seven years later they still don't know what happened to her that December afternoon.
[Photo provided by Goldia Coldon]
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