Alexandria Lowitzer was riding the school bus home from school on the afternoon of April 26, 2010 when she called her mother to tell her that she had forgotten her house key. The 16-year-old, who preferred to be called Ali, also asked if it was okay for her to walk to the Burger Barn where she worked to pick up her paycheck. Her mother, JoAnn, told her not to worry about not having her house key, as her older brother was still at the house so the door was unlocked. She did not, however, think it was a good idea for Ali to walk to get her paycheck. Although the Burger Barn was less than a half mile from their home in Spring, Texas, Ali had never walked there before; she only recently started working there and her grandmother had always driven her. It was a short walk, but there were no sidewalks along the main road Ali would have to take to get there.

Like most teenagers, Ali could be very persistent. She pleaded with her mother, assuring her that she would be careful. She also wanted to see if there was a possibility of her picking up a shift at the Burger Barn that night so she could make some extra money. Ali had only been working at the Burger Barn for 5 weeks, and it was her first job. She liked the idea of being able to make her own spending money. JoAnn finally relented, telling Ali to text her if she ended up staying at work so JoAnn would know what time Ali needed a ride home that evening. Ali promised her mother that she would check in with her later.

Ali got off the school bus at her normal stop on Low Ridge Road around 3:00 pm. The surveillance camera on the bus showed her and two male classmates exiting the bus there, then heading off in different directions. The boys went directly to their homes, while Ali turned off Low Ridge Road and headed in the direction of the Burger Barn, located near the corner of Cypresswood Drive and Treaschwhig Road. Her classmates would be the last people to report seeing Ali that day, as she never made it to work and she never returned home.

When JoAnn got home from work that night at 5:30, she was shocked to see that no one was there. It had been a while since she had heard from Ali, so she thought the teenager had just gone home after getting paid. She tried to text her to see if she could take over a shift at work but didn’t hear back. JoAnn wasn’t too worried because she thought Ali was busy at work and wouldn’t be able to get to her phone right away. Since she hadn’t heard from Ali, she chose to drive to the Burger Barn at 9 pm. Ali usually got off work at that time in the evening, but when JoAnn went to the restaurant that night, it was already dark and empty. Ali and the other workers were nowhere to be found. It was clear that they had already left for the day.

When JoAnn started to feel scared, she kept calling Ali’s cell phone while driving around the neighborhood looking for her. Ali had a lot of friends, but she didn’t go to their houses very often. It was unusual for her to be away from home this late at night; she liked having friends over to her house. After driving around for about an hour, JoAnn went back home to look for Ali.

JoAnn was sure something was wrong because the house was dark and quiet. John Lowitzer, Ali’s dad, and she just got divorced, but he still lived close by. He wasn’t sure what was going on either when JoAnn called to see if he had heard from Ali. Both of them agreed that it was time to call the police.

JoAnn called 911, and John went to the house to meet her. He was there with her when a patrol deputy from the Harris County Constable’s Office arrived. The deputy showed up close to midnight, and she didn’t seem too worried. She looked around Ali’s room quickly and asked a few simple questions about him. JoAnn was adamant that everything had been fine when she asked John and JoAnn if they had a fight with Ali earlier that day. Ali was mad at JoAnn at first for not letting her walk to the Burger Barn, but JoAnn gave in, and Ali was fine when they cut off their conversation that afternoon. The deputy tried to reassure Ali’s worried parents that he or she was probably just acting like a normal teen and would probably be back soon. They were told to call the police again in the morning if they still hadn’t heard from her.

John and JoAnn didn’t like how careless the deputy was being, but there wasn’t much they could do about it. Mason Ali, Ali’s brother, called some friends and they drove around the area all night looking for the teen. JoAnn called Ali’s friends again and again, but no one had seen her since school let out earlier that day.

Ali was still missing at 5 a.m. Both John and JoAnn were sure that something very wrong was going on. At 9 a.m., they called the police again and tried to make them understand how serious the situation was. Since Ali’s things were still in her room, they didn’t think she had run away. Her cell phone and backpack were the only things she had with her when she got off the school bus. All of her clothes, makeup, purse, and money stayed in her room at home.

Even though it was clear that John and JoAnn were in trouble, the police were still not sure. They didn’t want to open a missing person case because they thought Ali was just running away and would come back when she was ready. Ali’s angry parents decided to look into things on their own when they realized they were wasting time.

JoAnn learned that each school bus had a video surveillance system after she talked to the bus company. John and she were able to watch the video, which showed that Ali had been on the bus and got off at her usual stop when she last talked to her mother. They saw that two of her classmates got off the bus at the same stop and asked them what might have happened after the bus left. The boys said that they had all gone home, but Ali had gone off by himself in the opposite direction.

It was now clear to John that Ali had at least started walking toward the Burger Barn. He drove there and spoke to the manager who had been working that afternoon. He told John that he hadn’t seen Ali at all during his shift and that she hadn’t come in to get her pay, which was still in the office. It looked like Ali had never been to the Burger Barn.

John saw that there was a gas station across the street from the restaurant with a security camera, so he went there and asked to see the footage from the day before. With no time to spare, Ali would have had to walk right past the gas station camera to get to the Burger Barn. However, she was not visible on the film. The manager’s claim that he hadn’t seen Ali the day before was supported by this. It was clear that she had never made it to the shopping center where the Burger Barn was located. Ali had been seen but not heard from between the bus stop and the restaurant.

JoAnn was able to get Ali’s phone records and found out that she wasn’t the last person to hear from Ali on the day she disappeared. A text message was sent by Ali to a male friend after she talked to her mother at 2:45 pm. He told her he was busy when she asked if he could come over later that day when she didn’t have to work. John checked in with this friend, but it was clear that he hadn’t talked to Ali since their text message exchange, and he had nothing to do with her disappearance. Ali’s phone showed that she was last seen on the edge of her own neighborhood, close to where she got off the bus. It looked like she was gone as soon as she turned the corner to walk to the Burger Barn.

The family called the Laura Recovery Center, a non-profit that worked to stop kidnappings and help find lost or abducted children. They didn’t know what else they could do and knew the police were still sure Ali had run away from home. The group made official flyers for the missing person and helped the family hand them out in the area. The family also offered a $25,000 reward for information that would help them find Ali.

A lot of people were searched on the ground in the area where Ali was last seen, and the Laura Recovery Center worked to get the case covered by the local news media. Police had to pay attention to the case by the end of May because it was getting so much attention. The first report was taken by Harris County Constable deputies, but the case has now been given to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Within hours, police detectives looking into a murder came to JoAnn’s front door.

There was finally going to be some serious attention on the case, which made the family happy. However, it also meant that they would be closely watched. Detectives who look into murders always start their investigations close to home. Since John is Ali’s father, he was initially treated with some suspicion and questioned for hours. They also looked closely at Mason, Ali’s older brother, who was home by himself when Ali got off the school bus the day she went missing. He was also questioned for hours. He told the police that he heard the school bus drop off the kids, but he was sure Ali had not come to the house that day. Soon after, he left for work and never saw his younger sister again.

Detectives found that Joann, John, and Mason were all telling the truth after giving them all polygraph tests. Joann and John were found not to have had anything to do with Ali’s disappearance. Mason passed a polygraph test, but detectives did not officially clear him because they still did not know where he was when his sister went missing. Mason has always said that he had nothing to do with the disappearance, and no one ever put him forward as a suspect.

Ali didn’t seem like the kind of person who would have run away from home. Sophomore year at Spring High School, she was doing well. She was good and never got into any kind of trouble. She was a Girl Scout and played softball. Most of all, she was happy to be old enough to have a job. She liked to wear dark clothes and a lot of dark eyeliner, but she wasn’t dark in real life. She loved singing in her high school choir and making people laugh.

Ali was a friendly girl who liked to keep in touch with her friends. However, she liked to do this from her room. She used her cell phone a lot before she went missing. Each month, she sent and received thousands of text messages with her friends. They couldn’t imagine Ali just leaving, and since she went missing, none of her friends have heard from her. After 2:50 pm that day, she never used her phone again.

JoAnn and John have been relentless in their quest to find their daughter. Although they had been grateful that police had finally launched a serious investigation to find out what had happened to Ali, they were not going to stop their own investigation. Instead, they hired a private investigator and have continued their search for Ali. The private investigator theorized that Ali had been a victim of human trafficking, and police have considered this as well.

Detectives have never found any evidence to indicate that Ali is no longer living. Although her case has been assigned to the homicide department, this was done as a matter of policy as she has been missing with few leads coming in about her location. They continue to search for Ali, and believe that there are people who know what happened to her and have the information police need to solve this case.

Alexandria Lowitzer was 16 years old when she went missing in 2010. She has blue eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 145 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, black & white checkered skinny jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt that zipped up the front, and black sneakers. She was carrying a multi-colored checkered backpack and a blue LG cell phone. She had pink braces on her top and bottom teeth, and her nose and ears were pierced. If you have any information about Ali, please call the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at 713–221–6000 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1–800–843–5678.

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