Mural depicting Rogers Park woman missing since November offers ‘a different way’ to approach case

“The traditional methods haven’t worked in this case,” state Rep. Kelly Cassidy said of the disappearance of Sheena Gibbs.

SHARE Mural depicting Rogers Park woman missing since November offers ‘a different way’ to approach case
Lela Tarver, aunt of Sheena Gibbs, left, and Vernita Oliver, right, hold one another Sunday at a mural unveiling for missing person Sheena Gibbs outside of The Glenwood bar at 6962 N. Glenwood Ave. in Rogers Park to raise awareness of her disappearance and case.

Lela Tarver, aunt of Sheena Gibbs, left, and Vernita Oliver, right, hold one another Sunday at a mural unveiling for missing person Sheena Gibbs outside of The Glenwood bar at 6962 N. Glenwood Ave. in Rogers Park to raise awareness of her disappearance and case.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

An upbeat tune accompanied by somber lyrics rang through a Rogers Park alley Sunday afternoon as friends and family of missing woman Sheena Gibbs hugged, cried and begged for answers.

“Sheena, you are loved,” the lyrics, sung by Gibbs’ aunt, Lela Tarver, echoed over a speaker.

Gibbs, who was reported missing Nov. 3, is depicted in a newly completed mural at The Glenwood bar by artist Damon Lamar Reed with the Still Searching Project. The mural shows Gibbs smiling wide in purple, pink and green hues. 

The word “missing” and a phone number for tips and information on the case frame Gibbs’ face.

Gibbs is a 40-year-old Black woman who lived in Rogers Park when she was reported missing last fall. She was last seen at the corner of West Greenleaf Avenue and North Sheridan Road, according to a flier from Cook County Crime Stoppers.

Prior to her disappearance, Gibbs had discussed going to visit family in Iowa but never arrived. Police said Gibbs is a “habitual missing” case, which means she is reported missing often.

The latest update in Gibbs’ case came in April, when it was determined that her disappearance is “the result of a crime,” the flier reads.

The mural aims to call attention to Gibbs’ case and motivate anyone with information to report it to police.

“Black women who are missing are underrepresented in the media,” Lamar Reed said. “Artistically highlighting them — it’s a different way. Sometimes we see photos and just kind of go past it. I thought [the mural] would help to put more eyes on it.”

Damon Lamar Reed explains on Sunday why he made the work of art at a mural unveiling for missing person Sheena Gibbs outside of The Glenwood bar at 6962 N. Glenwood Ave. in Rogers Park to raise awareness of her disappearance and case,

Damon Lamar Reed explains on Sunday why he made the work of art at a mural unveiling for missing person Sheena Gibbs outside of The Glenwood bar at 6962 N. Glenwood Ave. in Rogers Park to raise awareness of her disappearance and case,

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

It’s a somewhat unconventional approach to a missing persons case, but advocates, including 14th District state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), hope that’s why it works.

“The traditional methods haven’t worked in this case, and they rarely work in these kinds of cases, so we have to think outside the box,” she said. “We have to be willing to invite more viewpoints in to solve these cases.”

Gibbs is bubbly, upbeat and outgoing, her family and friends said. She loves to dance and “meets no strangers,” according to her aunt, Vernita Oliver. 

To deal with her disappearance, “It’s torment,” Oliver said.

“It’s unreal right now, to see her face on a missing flier, missing mural,” Oliver said.

Disappearances of Black women have raised alarm for activists and elected officials. In 2020, nearly 100,000 of the total 268,884 women reported missing in the U.S. were Black, according to FBI statistics.

The unsettling pattern hasn’t spared Chicago.

“It’s not that Gabby Petito shouldn’t have gotten attention,” Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) said of last year’s high-profile case of a missing white woman. “It’s how do we raise that level of community care that could captivate a country … for every missing person.”

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