Missing and Black: Arianna Fitts and Daniel Robinson families continue their research

Arianna’s aunt, Tess Fitts, has since faced the destructive mystery of the double tragedy.

“I believe Arianna is still alive, and it would mean anything to me to know where she is and to find her,” Fitts told CNN recently, and started to cry. “I look forward to this day, every day. I believe that day will come.”

When asked why Arianna wasn’t a household name, Tess Fitts took a long hiatus.

“I honestly thought she was,” she said finally. “It’s a little surprising for me to know that she isn’t.”

Fitts says she chooses not to dwell on the issue of race, if there wouldn’t have been more attention if her toddler sister and niece were white, not black, wealthy and not poor.

It’s a problem faced by countless families of color searching for missing loved ones: Has race and prejudice, conscious or unconscious, hindered their search for answers?

Army veteran David Robinson on the hunt for his son Daniel in the Arizona desert doesn’t want to believe race plays a role, but he can’t help but think it’s true .

“I don’t even want to think like that, but in my situation people think of me or her mother differently. Like we love our kids less or something, or that they’re less important or something. That’s what it feels like, ”he said.

Carmen Bolden Day believes that there would be more answers in the disappearance and death of her son Jelani if ​​there had been the same attention on him as in the Petito case. Native Americans and other people of color also say authorities can be slow to act.

“Someone wanted her”

Tess Fitts smiles when she thinks of Arianna, describing her as “a very energetic, bubbly and curious child”.

“We would be in public [and] she just greeted strangers with a smile and people would respond to that, “Fitts said.” Very intelligent, very curious about things, and she also had a bit of sassy at times. “

But Fitts’ face becomes strained as she moves on to what happened.

“I think Arianna was taken because someone wanted her. Someone fell in love with her and they wanted her as theirs,” she said.

For her, the murder of her sister Nikki and the disappearance of Arianna must be linked. Nothing else makes sense.

Tess Fitts has been looking for her niece for over five years.

She says Nikki Fitts sometimes had babysitters in Oakland to look after her daughter overnight while she took late or early shifts at a Best Buy store in San Francisco, using public transportation to long journeys.

It’s unclear when Nikki Fitts last held her daughter, but they were last seen together in mid-February 2016, according to the family.

Nikki Fitts was reported missing in early April 2016. Police say she was “attracted” by a call to “go meet the babysitter”.

Police initially had a few leads, but none led to Arianna. No charges have been laid in Nikki Fitts’ murder or Arianna’s disappearance.

Arianna Fitts and her mother Nikki.  The little girl was reportedly not with her mother when the latter was killed.

And five years later, there is still no trace of the former toddler who has now likely lost baby teeth, grown a ton, and possibly learned to ride a bike.

Arianna’s case received media coverage. SFPD says case open and active, FBI included it in one of his podcasts and there are rewards for information.

But even when she first disappeared, there was no national frenzy to find her.

“It breaks my heart that Arianna is not with her mother or her family, but it breaks my heart even more to know that Nikki doesn’t want anything more than Arianna be with us or at home,” Tess Fitts said. with tears in my eyes.

Having to fight for attention

David Robinson is also in the hellish landscape of not knowing what happened, in this affair to his son, Daniel, who went missing from a job site outside of Buckeye, Arizona. Police said they searched three times for Daniel, a geologist, on the ground and with helicopters, but found nothing.
New details emerge in car crash linked to Daniel Robinson disappearance

Robinson became frustrated with what he thought was a lack of official action and traveled to Arizona, to search for his son himself, also hiring a private investigator. He also began to advocate for media attention of the kind directed towards the search for Gabby Petito.

“I love my son, he’s my responsibility… but we need help,” Robinson told CNN. “My son represents the world to me, as well as to his mother and siblings. We would like to have the same kind of attention.”

Five months into what Robinson calls his mission to find his son, evidence and clues have emerged. After the local media made a story, Daniel said help began to arrive, from ordinary citizens who volunteered their time for a stranger.

Daniel Robinson and his father, David, in a family photo

Four weeks after Daniel Robinson went missing, police called David Robinson. The young man’s car was found in an accident. His cell phone, the clothes he was wearing that day, and a case of water were all found in and around the wrecked car. But not Daniel.

So the volunteers and Robinson continued to search. They found all kinds of things. Most worrying: the human remains.

“We found a human skull,” said Robinson.

Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall said CNN’s evidence was being assessed, but it wasn’t Daniel. “We are waiting for DNA to come back to this case before we can positively identify us with the victim,” he said.

David Robinson searches for his son, Daniel, in the desert outside Buckeye, Arizona.

The volunteer researchers looking for Daniel may have helped resolve the case of another missing person. But David Robinson is left with even more questions and will continue to try to share his son’s story as he seeks a solution.

An ally in her work is Derrica Wilson, a former police officer, who co-founded the Black and Missing Foundation to highlight cases of missing persons of color.

She said no missing person of color has become a household name in the United States.

“There isn’t,” she told CNN. “I really think there is some unconscious bias there.”

Grieving Native American families shamed law enforcement over missing women and won the action
Because of course there are a lot of missing people of all races. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said that of nearly 30,000 missing children in 2020, more than 62% were Black, Latino, multiracial, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander.

“There are a lot of Gabby Petitos and Natalee Holloways in the black and brunette community,” Wilson said.

Tess Fitts lives this truth every day, looking for her niece. She says the San Francisco Police have been working on her case, but Arianna is not home and she cannot live with it.

So she has to take part of the challenge, create a website, Facebook group, and talk about Arianna whenever asked.

“I want everyone to know Arianna’s name. I want everyone to know what Arianna is like. I want everyone to know Arianna is a place she doesn’t belong to,” she said. she declared.

“I want everyone, everyone to know that.”

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