Family Loses Life Savings Chasing Fake Lead on Missing Daughter

Phoenix Coldon
Phoenix Coldon
When I initially saw the pictures of 23-year-old Phoenix Coldon, my first reaction was to take in her beauty. She’s a gorgeous girl. She’s also athletic—a champion fencer, and there sure aren’t a lot of those running around—and she’s a multitalented musician who plays the piano and the handbells at church.

Phoenix is also missing, and has been since December 18. That’s an unimaginable pain for a family, especially a parent, to go through. The worrying, the wondering, the waiting. So when a man in Texas claimed to know where she was, providing very clear, very believable details to corroborate his story, the girl’s family instinctively left their home in St. Louis, where Phoenix was last seen, to do their own research. 


Then, after paying for private investigators to follow up on the lead, they found out that it was all a hoax, that the man who reportedly had such valuable information was only saying so because he wanted attention. "It cost us dearly and it led absolutely nowhere. It was just his idea of a joke," said Phoenix’s mother, Gloria Coldon, in an interview. He wasted money that could’ve been better spent on realistic leads to find Phoenix, who is a student at University of Missouri-St. Louis, or at the very least, paying their household bills.

Now Mrs. Coldon and her husband, Lawrence, are absorbing the double blow of struggling financially while they also deal with the life-halting devastation of her child’s unsolved disappearance four months ago. The family, who had already tapped out their savings in the search for their missing child, was already struggling financially. But this heartless prank put them so far in the hole, the mortgage company is now foreclosing and the Coldons are losing their home.

Just when I think, OK, that’s got to be the cruelest thing one person can do to another, here comes a different news story competing to knock the first right out of contention. But this one is going to be hard to beat. And it’s not even the only time someone pulled such a cruel prank. A girl called the house actually pretending to be Phoenix. Disgusting. Just disgusting. No one should be able to sleep at night or look themselves in the mirror after pulling a stunt like that.

Meanwhile Phoenix is still missing. For whatever reason—I’ll let you figure out why—her story isn’t getting as much media airplay as, say, a Natalee Holloway, and police involvement has been, according to the Coldons, less than proactive or reassuring. The family learned that her 1998 Chevy Blazer had been impounded on the same day she went missing after it was found running with the keys in the ignition and the driver’s door open in East St. Louis, about a half hour drive from her house. Phoenix’s purse, with her license and her glasses, was inside.

Mrs. Coldon says there was a similar case in the city when a young girl was snatched from her car at a stoplight and forced into prostitution, so family has been canvassing strip clubs and seedy hangouts for possible leads. Her father, on the other hand, has launched his own search of abandoned houses and vacant lots. I can’t even imagine.

Even though they’re losing their home and unsure where they will go, the Coldon family will continue to do whatever it takes to find Phoenix. If you can find it in your heart—and your wallet—to contribute to the search for her, please send donations via PayPal to or mail to Goldia Coldon, c/o Missing Phoenix Coldon, P.O. Box 38645, St. Louis, Missouri 63138.

I think it’s important to keep them in their home in case Phoenix is being held captive and can find a way to escape back there. But her mom and dad have just suffered enough. I’m sending a donation now and hope you will, too. Especially if you’re a parent.

Do you think people who report false information in the investigation of a missing person should be criminally charged?

Image via Facebook

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