Although African-Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African-Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation to focus on the crisis of missing African-Americans.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile missing persons and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing.
Bengie Lynn Tyson
Case Type: Endangered
Date of Birth: Sept. 22, 1977
Missing Date: Nov. 29, 2009
Age Now: 39
Missing City: Red Lodge
Missing State: Montana
Case Number: 10-361-OF
Hair Color: Brown
Hair Length: Medium
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: It’s been seven years since Tyson was last seen in Billings, Montana, driving a blue 1999 Chevrolet Silverado truck that is also still missing.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Tyson’s father Byron Tyson says his daughter has had problems in the past, including drug use and some small run-ins with the law. But she was a bright and caring woman who was fluent in Spanish, which she studied, and didn’t mind a hard day’s work.
Tyson was working as a waitress and maintained her own residence in Phoenix, Arizona. She spoke regularly with her family and maintained close contact with her young son, who was in the custody of his father.
“She would always let us know where she was,” Byron Tyson, a retired financial manager, told NewsOne in an interview.
Before she disappeared, Tyson hit the road with a boyfriend that her family did not approve of, partly because the pair had a volatile relationship.
“She tended to gravitate toward the low-life people with lower self-esteem than her who needed her help,” said Byron Tyson. “Benji always suffered from a self-esteem problem. Maybe we didn’t do enough to build it up.”
The last time Tyson’s family heard from her was Thanksgiving Day 2009. She was in a town near Billings, Montana. Tyson’s parents, including her mother Rexie Tyson, a retired restaurateur, had taken Tyson’s son to visit with her brother in Florida. Byron Tyson remembers that his daughter was mad at him and his wife for some reason. After a brief conversation, she spoke to her son.
“She spoke to him for 10 to 15 minutes and that was the last time any of us spoke to her,” said Byron Tyson.
The family filed a missing persons report and eventually spoke to Tyson’s boyfriend.
“He’s the last person we know of who saw her alive,” said Byron Tyson. “He claims the last time he saw her they had an argument and she wanted to leave. He says he took her to a truck stop and she got into a white SUV.”
Tyson’s family does not believe her boyfriend’s story, but police have not been able to come up with any evidence of foul play thus far. The family has hired private detectives and lawyers to examine the case, but they have also failed to come up with any solid leads. The blue 1999 Chevrolet Silverado truck that Tyson was driving had a tracker that was disabled in January of 2010. The last known location of the truck was Portland, Oregon.
“We still hold out hope that she’s alive, but no one we know has heard from her since she disappeared off the face of the earth,” said Byron Tyson. “The case has gone cold.”
Tyson’s disappearance has been hardest on her now-teenage son, said her parents.
“He’s getting used to the idea that he may never see his mother again,” said Rexie Tyson. “He feels she’s missing because of him.”
Byron and Rexie Tyson say they reassure their grandson that his mother’s disappearance is no fault of his own, even as they try to hold out hope themselves.
Every year, Byron Tyson files an update on Facebook about his daughter’s status.
“We just want to see her come back safe and in good health,” said Byron Tyson.
Rexie Tyson has a message for her daughter:
“We just want you to know that we miss you and love you. We pray for your safety every day.”
Last Seen Wearing: Unknown.
Identifying Marks or Characteristics: Tyson has freckles and a two-inch scar on her forehead. She also has several tattoos including one on her abdomen, and an elephant tattoo and Chinese lettering.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts or circumstances of disappearance of Bengie Lynn Tyson should contact Billings, Montana Police or the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.