‘People… She Thought Were Her Friends’: Concerned Mother Raises Questions One Week After 21-Year-Old Disappears While Celebrating Birthday with Group on Memphis Riverboat Cruise

A Hernando, Mississippi, mother is feverishly searching for her daughter, 21-year-old Tamia Taylor, who went missing after celebrating her milestone birthday on Sept. 9 in Memphis with friends by taking a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River.

Taylor’s friends reportedly told her mother, Debra Taylor, that as they were disembarking, the young woman left the group to go to the bathroom, leaving her phone behind before disappearing. However, family members are not sure if those who accompanied her to the boat party are disclosing all that they know.

Mother Still Searching for Tamia Taylor One Week After She Went Missing from Riverboat Cruise
Tamia Taylor was last seen on the Midnight Booze Cruise in Memphis, Tennessee on Sept. 9, 2023. (Photos: Twitter/Memphis Police Department, WREG News Channel 3/YouTube screenshot)

“I think that she went out with a group of people that maybe she thought were her friends because Tamia always saw the good in people, no matter what, to enjoy herself. And things took a turn for the worse,” Debra Taylor said in an interview with WREG.

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The mother seemed to express her frustration with the friends, saying to WHBQ, “They seemed to make it off the boat, and she didn’t. And no one has any answers. They don’t know what happened.”

One friend, who also worked with Taylor, attempted to clear her name of some of the rumors being spread about her connection to the disappearance.

“It’s a lot of rumors going around, is a lot of people saying that me and two of my friends have drugged her, we killed her, it’s too many rumors going around,” Kuandera Jenkins said to WMC.

Jenkins said Taylor met up with someone while they were in line.

“Them two were talking and whatever, and he was telling her, ‘Oh, you a Virgo, she’s a Virgo,’ so they started laughing and talking, so he gave her some money to buy her a drink so she can celebrate her birthday,” Jenkins explained.

Adding, “She had her little bottle with her, and she was already taking shots, and we were smoking.”

Jenkins lost sight of her after she went to the bathroom, and when she didn’t come back, all of her friends started looking for her.

They called authorities at 1:45 a.m. on Sept. 10 after the boat docked.

The mom recalled a timeline of the events from her perspective.

Her daughter sent her a text message at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 9, telling her that she arrived in Memphis. The boat left the dock at 11:30 p.m. At some point, Taylor’s co-worker told Debra that her daughter had not gotten on the riverboat, but that was not true.

At 11:39 p.m., according to Debra, Taylor texted her to let her know that she indeed was on the Midnight Booze Cruise hosted by Memphis Riverboats.

“Her cousin called and said he went down to meet her, and when he arrived, he was told that Tamia was unable to be found. He asked them then, ‘What do you mean?’ The young lady then stated, ‘We do not know where she’s at,’” the mother explained.

Debra reported Taylor missing at 5 a.m. on Sunday.

The Memphis Police and Coast Guard are looking for Taylor. The mother of two is described as being 5 feet 7 and 125 pounds. Taylor was also last seen wearing a beige shirt, white shorts, orange socks, white shoes and a black jacket.

“There were two exits on the boat for patrons to offload at the conclusion of the ride,” MPD said in a report on her case.

An investigation into the case discovered that Taylor did get on the boat.

The company that operates Midnight Booze Cruise, a two-hour cruise that boards at 10:30 p.m., departs at 11:30 p.m., and returns at 1:30 a.m., says evidence contradicts the theory that she went overboard.

“We can confirm from video footage circling around that she was last seen on the boat as the boat was pulling into the Harbor, where we dock our boats,” the company wrote on Facebook. “We have no reason to believe she could have gone overboard and we will be respecting MPD as they conduct their investigation. We hope she is found safe and returns home.”

According to its website, all Midnight Booze Cruise dates have been canceled.

Debra Taylor wants answers and is not giving up hope.

“Something deep down inside of me tells me she is alive,” she said.

Read the full story at Atlanta Black Star.

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