The family of Nefertiri Trader will gather around the dinner table on Saturday Feb. 21 to mark the 34th birthday of the missing New Castle, Delaware woman.
"I’ll be fixing dinner for her birthday... She loves collard greens, spare ribs, and baked macaroni and cheese," said Nefertiri’s mother, Denise Trader, describing her daughter’s favorite meal.
Eight months ago Denise, 57, reported her eldest child, who she tenderly refers to as Neffie, missing.
During a neighborhood canvass on the evening of June 30, a neighbor told police he saw a man drag the mother of three from her porch around 4 a.m. and force her into her vehicle, a silver 2000 Acura RL.
A few hours before the witness came forward, Denise sent the woman’s cousin to her Freedom Trail home after calls to her phone went unanswered. He found a pack of cigarettes and coffee, untouched, on a porch chair. A loaf of bread lay in the front yard, stepped on – possibly as the victim tried to fend off her abductor.
The lost time -- more than 12 hours passed between the alleged abduction and the witness’ report -- infuriates Denise, who said she believes her daughter is still alive.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
"She is still with us," she said. Denise prays her daughter will be home in time to blow out her candles with her three kids, ages 8, 12 and 18, by her side. "She is being held captive somewhere. I just feel it."
The possibility is there, but it is unlikely, according to investigators.
"The chances of recovery of someone missing say 30 or 60 days diminishes rapidly and chances of them being found alive are very slim," said Richard Scanlon of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).
The likelihood of getting any type of resolution to a missing persons case in Delaware is slim. Nearly 79 percent of the state’s missing persons cases remain open, according to statistics from NamUs.
The numbers frustrate Denise, who claims investigators are not doing enough.
"They haven’t found anything. Nothing," she stated flatly. "Her kids want to know why nobody has found their mom yet or why the police doesn’t have anything to tell us."
New Castle County Police say the case remains open and active, but they have no strong leads. There has been no trace of Neffie or her car since that summer day.
They suspect the abductor was someone the missing woman knew, but, with few clues and no possible motive, they can’t rule out a stranger.
Denise says a reward would help bring her daughter home, but municipal dollars are rarely available for missing persons cases. It mostly comes from non-profits or private organizations, if at all.
She has begun to reach out to agencies that could help put Neffie’s information on a billboard and she is appealing directly to the kidnapper.
"I’m asking whoever has her, how would they feel if someone took them and kept them away from their family?" she asked.
"I’m just keeping the faith that whoever abducted her, God will soften their heart," she said. "Her kids need her. That would be the best birthday present ever."