Family still searching for missing local artist nearly 3 years after her disappearance

PITTSBURGH — A mural permanently sits in Hazelwood, perfectly capturing Tonee Turner’s vibrant spirit, and stands as a testament that those who know her, won’t give up on her safe return.

“When I drive past her mural in Hazelwood, I ask God to bring her home,” said Lisa Franklin Robinson, president of North Braddock borough council.

It’s been almost three years since Turner was last seen.

According to her family, Turner went to Dobra Tee in Squirrel Hill on Dec. 30, 2019, and later got on a bus to Hazelwood, where she lived. A bus driver reported seeing her get off at her typical stop at Giddings Street, according to loved ones, who never saw her again.

Some of her belongings were reportedly found on the Homestead Grays Bridge in the hours that followed.

“We will not rest until she comes home, it doesn’t matter how she comes home,” said Franklin Robinson.

“We don’t believe her not being here is something she chose on her own. Something happened, we don’t know what it is,” said Sister Iasiah Thomas.

Thomas, use to work with Turner and now serves as a liaison for any new tips that may come in.

“We are working on behalf of her and her family. We won’t tire of it. She is our sister, our daughter and community member,” said Thomas.

Turner was a full-time metal fabricator at Studebaker Metals in Braddock and was a ceramics teacher at the Carnegie Library of Braddock, that’s where she met fellow artist, Taylor Leeper.

“She didn’t see anything other than sunshine. She was sun, even if it was raining,” said Leeper. “She was a beautiful person and her artwork was beautiful, it’s still around. She will always be there in that capacity and if people in the arts can think of other activities to celebrate her. That would be great.”

Since Turner’s disappearance, there has been public outcry that the case hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.

In the meantime, Franklin Robinson tells Channel 11, no matter how much time passes, Turner’s community will never end their search.

“We will continue to tell the world that Tonee Turner’s life matters,” said Franklin Robinson.

“She was a light and she needs to know there is a light on in our homes for her and that she is welcome to come home anytime. And we will be there to receive her.”

According to Thomas, there will be a gathering in Turner’s honor on Dec. 30, 2022.

Tonee Turner was 22 years old when she went missing, and according to police was 5 feet, 2 inches tall, 130 pounds with chin-length black hair.

Anyone with information should contact missing persons detectives at (412) 323-7141 or to contact a nonpolice number to leave a tip, call or text (412) 689-2812.

While there is no update on the investigation at this time, Pittsburgh police are still actively investigating this case and urge anyone with information to call them. The number to call is (412) 323-7800.

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