Indiana Woman, 20, Found Safe One Month After She Flew To California And Vanished

Lateche Norris said she saw a missing person flyer featuring her photo and contacted her worried mother.

December 22, 2021
Lateche Norris (left) and her boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Smith (right). Sitting in front of a green grass background, Lateche looks at her Joey smiling wearing a black jacket and a tan top. Joey smiles wearing a green sweatshirt.

(L-R) Lateche Norris and her boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Smith

Photo by: Screenshot via CBS 8/YouTube

Screenshot via CBS 8/YouTube

(L-R) Lateche Norris and her boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Smith

By: Aaron Rasmussen

An Indiana woman who seemed to vanish into thin air four days after flying to Southern California to meet up with her boyfriend was found safe after seeing herself on a missing person poster.

Cheryl Walker said her 20-year-old daughter, Lateche Serenity Norris, sounded frantic when she phoned her from a stranger’s phone on Nov. 5. During the call, Norris told her mother that she and her boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Smith, 25, had gotten into a fight.

Despite Norris promising to phone again the following day, Walker didn’t hear from her and she reported her daughter missing on Nov. 9.

“Something is wrong,” Walker told Dateline NBC weeks later. “Now the days are just flying by with no word from her. And we’re terrified.”

The San Diego Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit recovered surveillance video of Norris at a 7-Eleven in San Diego on Nov. 4, the last time she was seen before disappearing. The day of the convenience store visit, Norris cryptically wrote on Facebook: “It's okay to still cry over things u thought you moved past.”

Walker repeatedly tried to reach her daughter and Smith with calls, texts and social media messages. Eventually, Norris’ worried mother, stepfather, Amir, and father, Walter Callum, flew to San Diego to look for her and distribute missing person flyers around the city.

“My daughter followed a troubled man out here that she loves,” Walker wrote in a since deleted Nov. 27 Facebook post, according to The Daily Beast.

A short time later, Callum said his daughter reportedly saw one of the flyers with her image on it and got in touch with her mother on Dec. 3.

“I was just sitting there, and I got a text and I saw it, and it just said, ‘Hey mama. It's Teche,’” Walker told KFMB-TV. “Honestly, I didn't even read the rest of it. I just hit dial and called her and told her we were here.”

Norris told the station her boyfriend had originally traveled to San Diego to enter a rehab program but was denied, leaving him homeless, and the couple had been living on the side of a highway in Chula Vista. “It's very tough being homeless out here, figuring out how are we going to eat today, how are we going to just live day to day and survive,” she said.

“We definitely have things to learn from, but we are open to learning,” Norris noted. “We recognize our mistakes, and we do genuinely love each other.”

The pair planned to return to Indiana.

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