What to Know
- Jashyah Moore, a 14-year-old from New Jersey, vanished after going to pick up groceries at a local deli on Oct. 14 in East Orange
- Prosecutors say her mom late that night reported her as a possible runaway, though the mom says she's sure now that someone has her; investigators are looking at surveillance video but haven't released it
- Jashyah Moore is described as being about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 135 pounds. She was last seen wearing khaki pants and a black jacket. A $20,000 reward is now being offered for information
Prosecutors in New Jersey's Essex County who newly took over the investigation into the disappearance of 14-year-old Jashyah Moore declined Wednesday to answer certain questions about her case but said, "Everything is on the table."
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens III made the comment when asked whether investigators believed if the East Orange girl had been kidnapped or run away. Moore, a high school freshman, vanished Oct. 14 after heading out to pick up some groceries from a local deli, officials have said.
Fifty investigators have fanned out across the neighborhood retracing the missing girl's steps, going through the family's cellphone records, talking to potential witnesses and looking for video evidence that may explain what happened. Yet demonstrators who gathered near that deli this week say they need to do more.
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Moore's mother, Jamie Moore, held steadfast to her commitment to find her daughter during a Tuesday night search party where, armed with flashlights and flyers, the desperate mother said aloud to her missing child, "I love you. I love you. If you see this, I'm looking for you, if I gotta die myself to find you."
Moore says she hasn't been able to sleep or eat well in weeks -- and though investigators have said she reported her daughter as a possible runaway late the night she disappeared, the mother now insists that likely wasn't the case.
"Jashyah is a smart girl, she would not stay out, she would not go out or go off with anyone. I feel like somebody has her against her will. That's why she hasn't called me," she said -- and to that potential individual, added, "You don't gotta tell us who you are, just don't hurt my baby. Drop her off, drop her off at the police station."
The chief investigator at the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday officials have been combing through surveillance video but haven't yet released it. Police who had been leading the investigation up until this point said cops had obtained surveillance from within Poppie's Deli on Central Avenue, where Jashyah Moore was last seen. She entered with an "older male" who paid for her items.
The two didn't leave together, and police have said the male in the video has been fully cooperative with investigators. Still, Jamie Moore says she suspects foul play.
The reward for information that helps lead investigators to find Jashyah increased to $20,000 on Wednesday, as anonymous concerned business owners contributed to the amount, officials said.
Some who joined in the recent search efforts say they're upset by what they perceive to be a double standard in the exposure given to the New Jersey teen's disappearance compared with that given to Long Island's Gabby Petito.
"We want that exposure for our babies that are going missing in our communities as well. We don't get that," search volunteer Yolanda Johnson said.
Stephens, the Essex County prosecutor whose office is now leading the investigation, has said his office acknowledges Petito's was a high-profile case that was constantly in the news -- and that it did yield "results and information." He and Moore's family are desperate for the same.
"This case cries out and demands our attention," Stephens said of Jashyah Moore. "Our society cannot ignore the fact that a 14-year-old girl ... would disappear without a trace on a sunny day on a central thoroughfare."
The FBI, East Orange Police, Essex County Sheriff's Office, New Jersey State Police and Orange Police Department are all said to be involved in the search for Jashyah Moore, who is described as being about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 135 pounds, according to her mother. She was last seen wearing khaki pants and a black jacket.
Authorities have yet to identify any suspects in her disappearance, at least publicly. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
A prayer service is expected to be held Friday in front of City Hall at 5:30 p.m. as the search for the teen continues.