Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, family members and friends of Bianca Tanner knocked on doors, left fliers in mailboxes and even stopped cars in the street as they canvassed an area north of uptown on Sunday, looking for tips in the elementary school teacher’s disappearance.
“It’s just tearing us apart,” her sister, Cerise Richardson, told reporters before the search began on a humid day with temperatures near 90 degrees. “Every night, her son is crying for her. He wants his mommy.”
Tanner went for a walk on June 8, after a fight with her boyfriend, and never returned, family members say. Police initially deemed Tanner’s disappearance a missing person’s case. But on Thursday, investigators upgraded the case to a homicide, Chief Rodney Monroe said, because some witnesses haven’t been truthful.
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The change allows the department to bring in more resources in the case, which stretches to Greensboro and Virginia.
Tanner, 31, moved to Charlotte on May 29 from Greensboro, where she had taught at Reedy Fork Elementary since 2007. She was working on a doctoral degree in education administration, according to her profile on the school’s website.
She had been living with her boyfriend, Angelo Smith, for two weeks, her sister said. A police report said she had been hired by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Project LIFT, which seeks to improve educational opportunities for students at West Charlotte High and its eight feeder schools.
Police haven’t made any arrests in Tanner’s case and haven’t released the names of any suspects.
Officers searched the Druid Hills neighborhood for Tanner already, but Sunday’s canvass, which included about 20 family members and friends, as well as CMPD officers, was meant to engage neighbors who might have seen Tanner or something suspicious.
“We know she’s out there and we’re going to find her,” Karen Draine, a college friend of Tanner’s, told one woman. “If you see anything suspicious, just call.”