Chicago Woman In New Relationship Disappears After Growing Distant With Friends
“I know that she’s waiting on us to find her to bring her home,” says the childhood pal of Sheena Gibbs.
Chicago resident Sheena Gibbs vanished on Nov. 8, 2021. Despite loved ones pushing for a more in-depth investigation into the case, they have few solid clues about what could have happened to her.
Originally from a small town in Iowa, Gibbs was living in the Windy City at the time she disappeared. Childhood friend Lilita Kelly says Gibbs was smart and moved to Illinois for college, where she studied anthropology and social studies.
In the fall of 2021, Gibbs’ mother was battling health issues, so Gibbs began to travel back and forth between Chicago and Iowa to help her out. Around that time, Gibbs began to communicate less and less with her friends, sparking concern something could be wrong.
Then, Gibbs’ friend Bethany received a text from a stranger one day telling her Gibbs was missing. She then got a call from Gibbs’ aunt telling her the same thing. “I felt alarmed but also some disbelief,” Bethany says. “I didn’t really think it could be that she’s really missing, and it seemed like some sort of miscommunication or misunderstanding.”
Bethany was unable to get ahold of her friend via phone or texts and the situation, she says, became very real.
On Nov. 8, 2021, Gibbs’ aunt filed a missing person report with the Chicago Police Department.
Gibbs movements at the time of her disappearance are still somewhat murky. According to investigators, in late October 2021, Gibbs was with her family in Muscatine, Iowa. Her family believes she made it back to Chicago on Nov. 1, one week before she went missing.
Like Bethany, a second friend, Sarah, recalls Gibbs had seemed to be growing distant leading up to her disappearance and was in a new relationship at the time. “I think maybe she knew we might not approve of her boyfriend,” Sarah says, speculating Gibbs’ self-esteem may have suffered after a cancer diagnosis, leading her to make uncharacteristic choices. “I noticed that the caliber of men that she was dating seemed to be a little bit more questionable.”
Sarah says she and other friends realized they needed this mystery boyfriend’s help to find Gibbs, but they didn’t know anything about him, including his name or where he lived.
Bethany also recalls she never learned the name of the person Gibbs was seeing off and on. “She kept that part of her life very private over the last, I’d say, five years,” she says.
Still, Lilita says her childhood friend never said anything strange or concerning about the boyfriend to her. “The only thing about him, from my own personal view, is that I just couldn’t understand why he didn’t’ reach out,” she says, adding that “just seemed like it was too obvious to me.”
The Chicago Police Department has not released any information about Gibbs’ boyfriend to the public.
Is it possible Gibbs went missing by her own choice or she is it more likely she’s the victim of foul play? “I don’t see her running away,” Bethany says, explaining she thinks someone took her friend against her will. “Her community was here [in Chicago], her family was nearby [in Iowa], and she loved both of those things.”
Lilita also insists Gibbs never would have runaway because “she’s a fighter” who would never give up.
“I actually believe, knowing Sheena, that she could have gotten herself into deep trouble by facing things head on and not running away,” Sarah echoes.
Thanks to an Uber driver, friends were able to pinpoint Gibbs’ last known movements, which just raised more questions in their minds. They learned she had stayed at a Chicago hotel, The Greenleaf House, from Nov. 1 to 5, 2021. “I believe Sheena was living with her boyfriend so I’m not sure why she was at that hotel,” Bethany says.
Gibbs’ whereabouts after she checked out are still unknown.
According to friends, in June 2022, investigators began asking if Gibbs had any friends in Winthrop Harbor, a city around 60 miles north of Chicago, after they learned it was the last location where the missing woman’s phone pinged on Nov. 8, 2021, the day she went missing.
On Sept. 6, 2022, police and volunteers conducted a search in the Winthrop Harbor area. Police have not released any details about if anything connected to the case was recovered. It’s also unclear if Gibbs was ever in Winthrop Harbor or if her phone was only discarded there.
“I want the world to know that Sheena is a great person, independent, just don’t give up on her please,” Lilita says of her childhood friend. “She’s counting on us. I know that she’s waiting on us to find her to bring her home.”
Anyone with information about Sheena Gibbs’ whereabouts before or after her disappearance or the case in general is urged to contact the Chicago Police Department, Area 3 SVU at (312) 744-8266.
For more on this case, stream Disappeared: “Lost in Her Secrets” on Max.
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