Nineteen searchers decided they needed to help find a woman who had missing for three days, and they did — almost immediately.
Friends decided to take action Wednesday morning, and the group found the body of 43-year-old Portia Adams in about six minutes in a vacant field in Washington Park. Her parents confirmed the identity. Adams was reported missing Monday.
Police were called to the 4300 block of Washington Park Boulevard in Washington Park.
Adams was last seen leaving her East St. Louis residence, the John DeShields Housing Complex, on Monday at 3:30 a.m. Her vehicle was found abandoned in Washington Park later that day.
About 20 police officers were at the scene, some of them in front of an abandoned house. Police put up tape around the house.
Illinois State Police and East St. Louis Police assisted Washington Park Police on scene.
About 75 people gathered outside. They formed a circle and began praying.
St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency reported that the body was found around midday.
Coroner’s office personnel arrived at the scene around 12:30 p.m., according to Danny Haskenhoff, a coroner’s office deputy.
Describing it as the heaviest load he has ever had to carry, Clent McCorkle stood at the crime scene where his daughter’s body had just been found.
McCorkle said his birthday was Saturday, and Adams had called him to say she wasn’t going to make it to the celebration. She told her father she would get back to him, McCorkle said. The next day, she went missing.
McCorkle, who owns Satisfied Towing in East St. Louis, said he was doing a tow two days ago of an abandoned car on 61st Street. When he got to the location of the tow, he saw that the vehicle was his daughter’s 2004 CTS Cadillac, which he had given her a couple of weeks ago as a reward for all her hard work for him at his business.
With an obvious look of pain stretched across his face, McCorkle recalled the moment he came upon the car. “There were bullet holes in the driver’s side door. Blood was spattered inside, and there was blood on the driver’s seat,” McCorkle said.
“Ain’t no pain like this. I have never seen any pain like this in my life,” he said, shaking his head in disgust. He and other family members had their suspicions about who may be responsible, but police said they are in the early stages of their investigation, and have not identified any suspects. Police did not confirm the victim’s identity, but her parents confirmed it was daughter.
Deborah Holmes, the victim’s mother, surrounded by family and friends, said “Today is the hardest day of my life.” Holmes said she wants justice for her oldest child. Holmes said she knows who did it and wants that person brought to justice. She said her daughter’s infectious smile will be sorely missed.
“She was outgoing, humble and energetic. She was comical and very beautiful,” Holmes said.
One of the searchers, Lisa Lacy, said 17 women and two men showed up to look for Adams after she posted information about the search on social media. She was thrilled to get as many people as she got on such a cold day.
Lacy said she felt that it was important for the community to come together and look for Adams.
“In six to eight minutes we found the body. Her auntie found her body,” Lacy said. “God put it on me to organize a search party. I just wanted to do something, and the community responded,” she said.
Amber Cornish said the group met at the senior citizen building in Washington Park at 11 a.m.
Terry Jenkins said she was pleased that the community came together because at the end of the day, despite the ups and downs, “all we have is each other.”
Jenkins grew up with Adams’ family in Washington Park. She had only good things to say about the victim. She also joined the family in saying she wants the person who took Adams’ life brought to justice.
Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503