With each passing day, the family and friends of missing Pittsburgh artist Tonee Turner grow more concerned about finding her and bringing her home safe.
Turner, 22, was last seen around 6 p.m. Dec. 30 in the Squirrel Hill area of the city, according to Pittsburgh police officials. WPXI reported that she was last seen at Dobra Tea, a Bohemian-style tea shop she often frequented.
"She's bubbly and caring," Turner's sister, Sydnee Turner, told NNPA Newswire. "She made a practice of caring for herself holistically."
The newswire reported that a firefighter found Tonee Turner's belongings -- her wallet, cellphone and keys -- the evening she vanished about 3 miles from the tea shop on the Homestead Grays Bridge pedestrian walkway.
Credit: Google/Google Maps
Credit: Google/Google Maps
Missing persons posters emphasize that it is completely out of character for the young woman to vanish without contacting her family or friends. Well-known in her community, Tonee Turner’s disappearance has garnered lots of local attention and some national media coverage.
A GoFundMe page set up to help fund the family's search has raised $10,535, surpassing its goal of $10,000.
Police investigators spent New Year's Day trying to piece together a timeline of Tonee Turner's last known movements, WPXI reported. Sydnee Turner wrote on Jan. 1 that the family believed she might be traveling down Interstate 80 near Homestead and sought to confirm her safety.
"We do not trust anyone she is traveling with," Sydnee Turner wrote on Facebook. "Friends in other states, I need your help the most right now. Friends in Ohio, Utah, Nevada, anything near route I-80, please look for my sister.
“Call if you have the faintest suspicion. We need to BRING TONEE HOME.”
Tonee Turner, a full-time metal fabricator at Studebaker Metals in Braddock, also serves as a beloved ceramics teacher at Braddock Carnegie Library’s Bathhouse Ceramics Studio.
A vigil was held earlier this month at the library for Tonee Turner. A Jan. 2 post on the library's Facebook page pleaded for information on her whereabouts.
"There are a lot of different pieces of information. And what we hope is that the leads, lead to Tonee," the post read. "And that Tonee knows the amount of care that exists for her."
The ceramics studio has paused its open studios for a few weeks as the library works to support Turner’s co-workers through their sorrow.
"This pause in open studio reflects the grief we are feeling and honoring its demands," read a statement from Dana Bishop-Root, associate director of the library association. "Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for your continued support and care for Tonee Turner and all of the staff members of the BCS."
The young artist has also been very active in the Braddock Youth Project, first as a participant and then as an AmeriCorps team leader.
"When her AmeriCorps term ended with us, she continued to work with our partners, Braddock Tiles and the Braddock Library Ceramics Studio," a post on the project's Facebook page read. "She later was hired on as a full-time metal fabricator at Studebaker Metals.
“So many have grown accustomed to feeling her radiate love amongst different parts of the Braddock community. We are sending out our love to Tonee's family and all others who know and love her, and we are taking part in lighting white candles to lift Tonee up as detectives and her family search for answers.”
Akayla Bennett told NNPA Newswire she's known the missing woman for about a year.
"She danced over to me and gave me a big hug, and I knew her soul was beautiful at that moment that I met her," Bennett said.
Bennett and Sydnee Turner described Tonee Turner as an artist, an educator and an avid dancer. Her sister said she is studying Flamenco and Kathak, a form of Indian dance.
"If you've gone to concerts in Pittsburgh, you've probably seen Tonee in front, dancing her little heart away," Bennett told the newswire. "Whether she was alone or with friends, that didn't matter to her when it came to dancing."
Tonee Turner is black with wavy shoulder-length hair that she sometimes wears in a wrap, police officials said. She is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to dial 911 or contact the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police at 412-323-7800.
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