Keeshae Jacobs planned to spend the night with a friend when she left her Richmond, Virginia home around 11:00 pm on the night of Monday, September 26, 2016. The 21-year-old sent her mother a text message at 11:41 pm confirming that she had made it to her friend’s house; she told her mom that she loved her and would see her the following day. It was the last time Toni Jacobs would ever hear from her daughter. Keeshae never returned home and was never seen again.
Toni knew that something was wrong when she didn’t hear from her daughter the next day. Keeshae was extremely close with both her mother and her older brother, Deavon Jacobs; she had promised she would be home early on Tuesday because she wanted to make pancakes with Deavon. When she didn’t show up, he wasn’t initially worried, assuming that she had a late night with her friend and was sleeping in. As hours went by, however, he started to grow concerned.
Toni went to work as usual on Tuesday and was surprised when she didn’t hear from Keeshae, who would normally contact her frequently throughout the day. She called home and asked Deavon if he had heard from his sister, but he told Toni that she hadn’t been back to the house yet. Both Toni and Deavon tried to call and text Keeshae multiple times, but their calls went straight to voicemail and she didn’t answer any of their text messages.
When she got home from work that afternoon, Toni called many of her daughter’s friends and asked if anyone had heard from Keeshae. They all told her they hadn’t spoken to her and had no idea where she might have gone. By Tuesday night, Toni was growing increasingly frantic. She drove around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and searching in vain for any sign of her daughter. By Wednesday morning, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong, and she went to the Richmond Police Department and reported Keeshae missing.
At first, the Richmond police seemed to brush Toni off, telling her that Keeshae was an adult who was free to come and go as she pleased. Toni pleaded with them to take her seriously, even pulling out her cell phone to show them how many times a day her daughter would normally call or text her. There was no way Keeshae would have gone anywhere without letting her mother know.
Keeshae had always been close with her mother, and she opted to stay at home after she graduated from Richmond High School several years earlier. Although she was a popular girl with a lot of friends, she preferred staying home to going out and partying. That Monday night, she had been somewhat troubled because she had been arguing with her boyfriend. Toni recalled, “She was pretty upset, but me and her brother seemed to talk her down and then she was like, ‘All right, Ma, I’m going [to a] friend’s house. I’ll be back tomorrow.’”
Toni had made sure that Keeshae took her phone charger with her when she left the house Monday night, so she was fairly certain that the lack of contact wasn’t because Keeshae’s phone battery was dead. In the past, whenever Keeshae found herself without a working phone, she would use a friend’s phone to text her mother so she would know how to get in touch with her. The fact that Toni hadn’t heard from her led her to believe that she was unable to get to a phone. “She’s not gone, I don’t feel that she’s gone. I just feel that somebody’s got her and she can’t call me.”
On Wednesday night, several of Keeshae’s friends showed up at her house and admitted to Toni that Keeshae had gone to visit a man who was renting a room in a house on Broad Street in the Church Hill section of Richmond. It was unclear why they had initially kept this information from Toni, and she immediately demanded that they take her to the home where Keeshae was last seen.
Toni knocked on the door of the Broad Street house and questioned the man who answered it. He admitted that he knew Keeshae through a friend, but claimed he hadn’t seen her since around 5:00 pm on Monday. Toni told him this wasn’t possible, as she knew Keeshae had still been at home at that time. “Then it went to another time, and another time, and I said, something isn’t right…it’s not adding up.” Realizing that the man was lying, Toni called police and requested that they meet her at the Broad Street home.
Several Richmond police officers responded to the house, but before they could do anything the man who lived there called a Richmond detective he had worked with in the past and requested that he be the one to conduct a walkthrough of the home. Toni felt this was odd. “This wasn’t the detective on Keeshae’s case. I found out later he was prosecuting him for something else he did. Why did he feel so comfortable with this detective?”
The detective looked around the Broad Street home but didn’t find any of Keeshae’s belongings and nothing to indicate that she had been held there against her will. With no solid evidence against the man who lived there, they declined to release his name to the public, noting that he was not considered a suspect in Keeshae’s disappearance at that time.
On October 4, 2016, a press conference was held to update the public about Keeshae’s disappearance. Toni spoke at the press conference, tearfully stating, “This is the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I just want my baby to come home.” The pain in her voice was clearly evident as she begged for anyone with information to call police so that her daughter could be brought home safely.
Sometime after the press conference, Toni was contacted by the person who owned the Broad Street home where Keeshae had last been seen. The man who Keeshae had gone to the house to visit was only living there temporarily, and the woman who owned the home was more than happy to let Toni search the home herself so she could see that Keeshae wasn’t there. As Toni went through the house, she didn’t find anything belonging to her daughter, but she did note that there were some bloody tissues in a trash can.
Toni also realized that there was a basement that could only be accessed from an outside door; she feared that the detective who searched the home had been unaware of this and hadn’t checked to see if Keeshae had been held there. Although Toni didn’t find any trace of her daughter in the basement, she was haunted by the thought that Keeshae might have been kept there against her will for a period of time.
Toni immediately called the Richmond Police Department and told them about what she had found at the house, and they returned to the home. This time, they spent three days conducting a thorough forensic investigation. Dozens of crime scene technicians and K9 units scoured the home. Many items of potential evidence were carried out of the home, but investigators refused to comment on what — if anything — they found.
Investigators also searched the neighborhood surrounding the Broad Street home. They paid special attention to nearby Chimborazo Park, a 30-acre area that had once housed one of the largest military hospitals in the world. Its proximity to the house where Keeshae was last seen made it of particular interest to detectives, and it was combed several times for any clues to Keeshae’s whereabouts.
Richmond Police Capt. James Laino noted, “We searched the park, the areas below the park, we interviewed anybody who had contact with her prior to her going missing and who had potentially seen her within the last 48 to 72 hours.” They were unable to come up with any solid leads about what had happened to the young woman.
There were a few reported sightings of Keeshae in the days and weeks following her disappearance, but none of them could be confirmed. Richmond Police Detective Billy Thompson asked for anyone who thought they saw Keeshae to call investigators immediately. “Give us those tips. Let us track down those leads.”
Toni was still reeling from the shock of her daughter’s disappearance when she was hit with another tragedy in early January 2017. Her son, Deavon, was gunned down outside a Richmond motel. For Toni, it was a devastating blow. Less than four months earlier, she had been a happy and proud mother of two. Now, her son was dead and her daughter was missing. Despite the unimaginable pain, Toni fought on, determined to get justice for her son and find Keeshae.
Deavon’s kil*ler was quickly apprehended and charged with his mur*der, although he would eventually plead to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Investigators determined that his de*ath was unrelated to his sister’s disappearance.
Months went by with no progress on Keeshae’s case. As the first anniversary of her disappearance approached, investigators admitted that the case had stalled. Toni continued to do everything possible to keep her daughter’s name in the public eye, spending all of her free time distributing missing posters, posting Keeshae’s picture on social media, and working with several missing person foundations. Despite all of her efforts, it was still unclear exactly what had happened to Keeshae.
At a November 29, 2017, press conference, officials with the Richmond Police Department announced that foul play was involved in Keeshae’s disappearance. Detective Thompson noted, “This is not a young lady that just decided to run away or move to another state; it is not her character to not call her family or friends in 14 months when she would reach out to them every day.” He made another appeal for anyone with information about Keeshae to contact investigators.
Although detectives admitted that they believed Keeshae had been a victim of foul play, they stated that they still had no solid evidence pointing to what had happened to her. Despite the plea, only a few tips were received and the case soon went cold. It would remain that way for the next five years.
Toni continued to fight to find her daughter. She couldn’t help but note the discrepancies between Keeshae’s case and that of Gabby Petito, who was reported missing in September 2021. In Gabby’s case, the FBI joined the investigation almost immediately; Toni had tried to get them involved in Keeshae’s case but had been met with only silence. “I was pleading and begging them to please help me…what made the FBI more eager to help [Gabby] than to help Keeshae?”
Toni couldn’t help but think that racial bias played a role in Keeshae’s case and might have contributed to the fact that Keeshae was still missing. She wondered if she would have gotten answers had police treated her daughter’s disappearance with the same amount of urgency they treated Gabby’s case. “None of this stuff was done for my baby.”
By the sixth anniversary of Keeshae’s disappearance, Toni was angry. For years, she had refrained from publicly naming the man who had been the last known person to see Keeshae, but now she was ready to go to the press with this information. At a press conference, she held up a picture of the man and told reporters his name was Otis Lee Tucker. She was convinced that he knew exactly what had happened to her daughter.
Otis Tucker — who also went by the name Omar — had an extensive criminal history. On September 19, 2016, just one week before Keeshae vanished, he had attacked another woman in the Broad Street house where he was living. The woman survived, and Tucker was charged with abduction, rape, and strangulation. The rape charge was later dropped, but in February 2017 he was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to the other charges.
Toni remained convinced that Tucker was responsible for her daughter’s disappearance, but he was never charged in connection to Keeshae’s case and left the state of Virginia after he was released from prison in 2021. Toni wasn’t sure where he had gone, but she was certain he was a danger to society. “My main concern at this point is him doing it to somebody else.”
Less than two months later, Tucker was arrested and charged with second-degree mu*rder in the de*ath of Ashley Fowler of Jacksonville, Florida. Toni’s fears had come true. “I’m angry and I’m disappointed…I’m saddened by the loss of that young lady’s life…my heart goes out to her family.”
Richmond police stated that they were aware of Tucker’s charges in Florida and had been in touch with police there, but they still didn’t have enough to charge him in Keeshae’s disappearance. The investigation remains open and active, with both a missing persons detective and a homicide detective assigned to the case. Detective Anthony Coates stated that they are working hard on the case to get Toni the resolution she deserves. “She needs closure…we’d really like to close this out for her.”
Keeshae Eunique Jacobs was just 21 years old when she went missing from Richmond, Virginia in September 2016. She was last seen at the house where Otis Lee Tucker was renting a room, and her mother believes that Tucker knows exactly what happened to Keeshae. Tucker is currently being held on unrelated mu*rder charges in Florida; to date, he has maintained his innocence in Keeshae’s case. Keeshae has brown hair and brown eyes, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 105 pounds. She has paw prints tattooed on her right thigh, a flower on her right hand, a heart and the name Toni on her left shoulder, a leaf on her right foot, and a rose on her right shoulder. She was last seen wearing black basketball shorts, a pink scarf, and pink and black Nike sneakers. If you have any information about Keeshae, please contact the Richmond Police Department at 804–646–5125.