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Nearly thirty years ago, 15-year-old African American twins, Dannette and Jeannette Millbrook, vanished off the street near their home in Augusta, Georgia. Despite being one of the few cases of missing twins in American history, their disappearance gained little media attention and many question whether it was properly investigated. For decades, their family pleaded for help, but the case went cold.
How much did racial and socioeconomic divisions in Augusta come into play?
The sisters lived in area near a dividing marker called “The Fall Line,” a geographical division so significant that it inspired the title of a podcast centered around the case.
What is the Fall Line?
It’s a long and jagged line that cuts through the middle of the state, nearly cutting it in half horizontally from a map’s perspective. It divides the state into Piedmont, the hilly part of Georgia to the north and the more flat Coastal Plain to the south with a collision of rocks. It’s where crystalline rocks of the Piedmont clash with the more easily weathered rocks of the Coastal Plain, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece about the state’s feature. Waterfalls and rapids exist at many of the Fall Line’s points.
Like many bodies of water, some of these points led to trading posts in the 1700s and 1800s, which transformed into modern day metropolitan areas. Augusta is one such city.
The Fall Line is more than just geological though. It also represents socioeconomic divisions. It runs through Augusta’s Broad Street which divides the city into northern and southern Augusta. The southern area is known as the Bethlehem area, where the Millbrook sisters lived.
“It’s more poor, the poorer side of town,” the twins’ sister Shanta Sturgis told the producers of Oxygen’s upcoming “The Disappearance of the Millbrook Twins.”
Sturgis said that on that side of the line, not only are there more crimes, but there are more crimes that go unreported.
The other side is contrastingly more affluent, home to the Augusta National Golf Club, the official site of the annual Masters Golf Tournament.
Jessica Logan, another sister of the Millbrook twins, told the show’s producers that the “better well-off side, they have the money to push to look for family members if they go missing. They have the resources and everything. Or they’ll get more help quicker than a woman would with a heap load of kids that lives in the projects. Cause when you live in the projects they already stereotype you and get you a bad name.”
Richard County Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the producers of “The Disappearance of the Millbrook Twins” that there was a racial divide back when the girls went missing and there is still one to this day in the city’s two sides.
“Do I think there was institutional racism back in 1990? Absolutely. Do I think it exists today? Yeah,” he said.
The show explores whether mistakes were made in the initial investigation: The initial investigator on the case got the girls' names wrong on the missing persons report, according to the Fall Line podcast. The original investigative records on the case were then lost, according to the Charley Project, which is an online database of missing people who have been gone for at least one year. At some point, the twins were dismissed as runaways with little evidence, according to the Fall Line podcast. Then, the case was closed without the girls actually being found, according to theCharley Project and the Fall Line podcast. Their names were removed from the National Registry of Missing and Exploited Children in 1993 after law enforcement reported they had been found, although their family said they never saw the twins.
To learn more about the case, tune in to “The Disappearance of the Millbrook Twins” premiering on Saturday, November 23 at 7pm ET/PT, only on Oxygen.
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