Search for missing baby active 17 years later

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PHOENIX -- She was born premature and addicted to drugs. By the time she was 9 months old, she had vanished. But Phoenix police aren't giving up on Aleacia Stancil.

"Elizabeth Smart to Jaycee Dugard are the equivalent to a comet passing the earth," Officer Will Andersen said.

Finding Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard was stunning and extremely rare.

Unfortunately, when most children are reported missing, "Far and away the statistics are much more grim. The child has a finite lifetime from the point of abduction, mere hours." according to Andersen.

The police report shows Aleacia Stancil was only 9 months old when her mother, Toni, says she left her with a friend named Dee. At the time, Toni was spiraling out of control. After she got out of the Air Force, she was arrested for drugs and prostitution. The last time Toni saw her daughter was in December 1994 near 12th Avenue and Van Buren Street.

"Toni said she returned to the area where she knows Dee to be around three or four days later and could not find her," Andersen said.

A year later, another setback. Toni was found murdered behind the old Ruth and Hartley Barker building near 16th Street and Polk.

"Without that mother, without that one and only witness, I'm very limited in how to proceed in the investigation." Andersen said.

Toni had a criminal past as does Jerice Hunter, Jhessye Shockley's mother. Jhessye disappeared on Oct. 11 from her Glendale home.

"How you've lived your past, things that you've done, you've been certainly accused of, found guilty of and punished for, that's something that we have to take into consideration," Andersen said.

But criminal past or not, missing children investigations never end.

"They're not closed, they don't go cold, we run them to exhaustion," Andersen said.

Aleacia's aunt, Beverly Taylor, bonded with Aleacia the moment she was born.

"She heard me, I kept talking to her, she would follow my voice or try to pick up my voice through her little sight," Taylor said. "She would watch me and she would look at me."

Even though it's been years, Taylor has never given up hope Aleacia is still alive.

"I just hope that she's healthy and whoever had her, whoever brought her up to this point, raised her well," she said.

"Aleacia is 17 today, March she will turn 18 and I'm hoping for another comet, I'm hoping for another Jaycee Dugard," Andersen said.

If you have any information about Aleacia Stancil, contact Phoenix police.