Keeping the Faith: A Family's Search
Nineteen years after the sudden disappearance of Diamond and Tionda Bradley from their Chicago home, the sisters’ family is committed to their search for answers.
The Bradley family held a gathering on Monday in Chicago, wearing t-shirts and masks with the pictures of little Diamond and Tionda. The crowd of supporters said prayers, sang and released balloons and the girls’ family gave an impassioned plea to the community to come forward with any information about the disappearance. Through 19 years of searching, there are still no answers.
The two sisters, 10-year-old Tionda and 3-year-old Diamond, vanished from their apartment near 35th and Cottage Grove in Chicago on July 6, 2001, while their mother was at work. Their disappearance sparked one of the largest manhunts in Chicago history as search teams tracked open fields, railroad cars and thousands of abandoned buildings.
In 2018, we had the opportunity to sit down with Diamond and Tionda’s aunt, Faith, and ask her to share some personal insight about the girls; personal thoughts that go beyond the headlines.
Tell us a little about your relationship with the girls. You used to take care of them a lot?
Faith: Yes, I took up a lot of time with them, a lot of time! I named Tionda. Well, we had a female neighbor and her name was Tiona. I liked that so instead, my sister named her Tionda with a “D.” TIONDA - that’s how she got her name. I was real close to Diamond too. Diamond spent a lot of time with my mother but Tionda, I was real close to her. She was like my baby. Tionda was very energetic. She was in every talent show. She knew how to dance. She knew how to do gymnastics. She was just a girly girl. It’s just sad we don’t have any leads or anything. How can two kids just disappear like that?
What do you think happened that day?
Faith: I really can’t say because I don’t know. I wasn’t there, but I know deep down inside whoever got them knew the situation, what they was going through as far as their mom leaving them in the house. Whoever took them knew they was being left in the house. It’s probably somebody Tionda was familiar with. Tionda was just not gonna open no door for strangers.
Your sister, the girls’ mother, found a note the day the girls disappeared, saying the girls were going to school and a nearby store.
Faith: The letter was Tionda’s penmanship but truly in my heart, I think she was coached into writing that letter. Tionda always wrote letters because she loved writing. When she wrote letters or certain words, she wouldn’t spell it correctly. So this didn’t match up with her writing. I don’t think she ever left the house on her own because Tionda knew not to leave out that house. They would not just walk out. Diamond was 3 at the time so she’s gonna follow her sister wherever she goes, they were so close. They loved each other, all four sisters. They always had each other’s backs.
Throughout these years, you and your family have worked very hard to keep Tionda and Diamond’s story in the media. How do you manage to stay positive?
Faith: I visualize what they’re doing now, in college, their career, living a normal life. I try to keep it positive in order for me to stay positive. I just visualize them just living life to the fullest, not being neglected and abused because that negativity will kick in and then hope will deteriorate. I try to keep it hopeful, you know? I think about Tionda and Diamond all the time.
“I just try to keep the faith. I guess that’s why my mom named me Faith,” says Faith Bradley-Cathery. “I say a prayer every night for them, every single night from the time they went missing until now.”
If you have any information about Tionda or Diamond call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).