‘Just as important as Gabby Petito’: Mom’s desperate search for vanished daughter

An Indiana mother is desperately searching for her 20-year-old daughter, who vanished in California three weeks ago after getting into a fight with her boyfriend.

Lateche Norris hasn’t been heard from since she frantically called her mother, Cheryl Walker, on a stranger’s phone Nov. 5 in San Diego seeking help tracking down her wayward beau.

Norris’ distraught mother has since launched a social-media campaign to try to locate her daughter — as she drew comparisons to the high-profile search for slain Long Island woman Gabby Petito.

“My daughter is just as important as Gabby Petito,” Walker wrote in a Facebook post. “As if what happened to that sweet girl wasn’t heartbreaking enough.”

Petito’s disappearance made national headlines after she vanished during an August road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. Petito was found dead in Wyoming months before Laundrie, who was the only person of interest in her death, took his own life in Florida.

Walker said her daughter left for San Diego on Nov. 1 to be with her boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Smith.

Walker claims her daughter’s boyfriend had recently left a rehab facility and was living on the streets.

Missing poster for Lateche Norris
Lateche Norris hasn’t been heard from since Nov. 5.

The mother said the young couple, who are both aspiring tattoo artists, had been fighting the day before Norris vanished.

Norris spoke to her mother the morning of Nov. 5 from the stranger’s phone after getting into another argument with Smith.

Walker said her daughter had asked her to send her Smith’s phone number so she could find out where he was — and promised to call her right back.

The mother said she didn’t ask Norris what happened to her phone or why she couldn’t remember Smith’s number and was calling from the stranger’s device.

“I let her go so she could call him, and I say ‘You call me back! I love you,’ ” Walker said. “The last words my daughter said were, ‘I will, Momma, I promise I love you more.’ “

Lateche Norris and boyfriend
Lateche Norris and Joseph “Joey” Smith are both aspiring tattoo artists.

The missing woman’s family said they have repeatedly tried to reach Smith since Nov. 5, but their messages are going unanswered.

Norris and Smith met earlier this year and lived together briefly in Santa Cruz over the summer, Walker said. Norris returned home to Indiana after two months before deciding to head back to California three weeks ago.

Norris’ mother has accused police of not doing enough to find her daughter after she was reported missing.

Walker claims cops told her they don’t believe Norris is “at risk” and that they “see this all the time.”

The San Diego Police Department confirmed to The Post that it received a missing person’s report for Norris on Nov. 9.

Lateche Norris
Lateche Norris’ mother has launched a social-media campaign to try to locate her daughter.

The cops would not confirm if they were investigating her disappearance.

Walker took aim at people on social media who have suggested her daughter was looking to be homeless or a drug addict.

“My daughter followed a troubled man out here that she loves, her spirit is a force to be reckoned with,” Walker said.

“I don’t care what anybody says, my daughter agreeing to rough it for a few days upon arriving here, does not mean she planned on being homeless. I know her, I’m not blind, and I’m not naïve.

“My daughter isn’t an addict, she isn’t a recovering addict.”

Original Article: https://nypost.com/2021/11/29/indiana-mom-searches-for-missing-daughter-lateche-norris/

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