Michelle Howard grew up among the grit and glamour of Atlantic City, New Jersey. She thrived on the energy of the bustling resort town, the 24-hour casinos and endless nightlife.
“She was the life of the party,” her daughter, Dawn Register, told Dateline. “She was fun and lively and had a go-getter mentality. But she also wanted the best for me.”
After experiencing tough times and having been involved with the wrong crowd over the years, Michelle decided it was time for a change. Dawn said her mother knew that in order to begin a fresh chapter in her life, she would need to leave New Jersey. And Michelle knew exactly where she wanted to go. California.
“It was her dream to move to California,” Dawn explained. “And she wanted me to go with her. That was the last conversation I had with my mom.”
They had gathered at Dawn’s great-grandmother’s house in Atlantic City for the Thanksgiving holiday. Dawn told Dateline that her mother was last seen by the family two days later, around 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 24, 2001.