Home » LaShawnda Coates, 10-Months: Father Confessed To Murder, She Remains Missing
An investigation into the disappearance of LaShawnda Coates has left investigators with the belief that this precious baby is no longer alive. Although news reports about this case are scarce, I was able to piece together the story of what led up to LaShawnda’s disappearance after she was last seen on August 1, 1991, in River Rouge, Michigan. According to reports, the Michigan Department of Social Services, or DSS, was alerted about LaShawnda after she was found to have a broken arm and bruises stemming from an altercation with her parents.
It is said that the baby’s father, Byron Ogletree, was engaged in a violent argument with LaShawnda’s mother, Samora Coates. During the spat, Ogletree reportedly used his baby daughter as a shield of protection as the fight escalated, resulting in LaShawnda’s injuries. The DSS did not believe that Ogletree nor Coates were capable of providing a suitable homelife for LaShawnda so she was handed over to her grandmother, Coates’s mother.
However, the authorities would move LaShawnda Coates from one home to the next. She went from staying with her maternal grandmother to foster care, and by June 1991, just months before she went missing, LawShawnda was moved once again to her paternal grandmother Barbara Brown’s care.
It is reported that on August 1, 1991, Barbara called upon her teenage daughter to babysit LaShawnda while Barbara was at work, and during that time, Ogletree visited his mother’s home. He reportedly took his daughter from the residence without notice or permission, and later that day, the child’s mother received a distressing call.
Ogletree reportedly called his ex, Coates, and while on the line with her, Coates would later tell authorities that Ogletree told her to listen. She heard what she believed to be 10-month-old LaShawnda Coates being choked and shaken to death. Coates called the police immediately and the hunt for both Ogletree and his daughter was launched, but the child could not be found.
Coates would go on to see Ogletree “three or four more times,” claims reports, and with each meeting, he promised to reveal LaShawnda’s location. However, that never happened, and Ogletree’s tales of what occurred on that phone call and where LaShawnda could be would change depending on the day.
Just over one month since the last time LaShawnda Coates was seen, Byron Ogletree was arrested for kidnapping his daughter. He told investigators that LaShawnda wasn’t with him and he declined to divulge her whereabouts. Yet, Ogletree reportedly confessed to his mother and Coates that he killed his baby daughter after losing his temper.
The status of the investigation into Ogletree is unknown, but MLive Detroit reported in 2019 that his name was listed in an unrelated case with the Detroit Police Department regarding some sort of settlement following a drug arrest in 2007. What happened to Coates is also unclear, but LaShawnda remains missing. There is only one blurry photo of LaShawnda listed in public records.
At the time of her disappearance, LaShawnda Coates stood 2 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 20 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. Any distinguishing marks on her body or what she was last seen wearing are unknown. Her middle name is “Patrice.” She would be 31-years-old at the time of this publication.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the River Rouge Police Department at (313) 842-0069 or their local authorities. The agency case number is 2247-91.
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