CA CA - Renee, 5, & Ronique 'Pepper' Smith, 3, Gardena, 1973

Discussion in 'Resolved Cold Cases' started by shebbear, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. shebbear

    shebbear Member

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    I'm not sure if this is the correct area in Websleuths to post this...
    Friday 3/25 Dateline NBC ran the story--"The Girl Who Didn't Exist":
    About Rhonda Christie ("Pepper Smith") Another long-ago missing child finally found as an adult. Does anyone have more background on this case?
     
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  3. katydid23

    katydid23 Verified Juanette

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    That was such a sad story. WEll, at least some of it was good. She found out the older child was actually her half sister. And she found her adoptive family at least, before the mother died.
    I wonder if the half sisters will ever search for their bio mom?

    I am just happy to hear they have their own children and families now. They both deserve it.
     
  4. DairyGirl

    DairyGirl New Member

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    I got angry watching this. Why didn't the "mother" look for her child? She talked about how upset she was but they did NOTHING. I would have been all over the media, you couldn't shut me up. I would park myself in front of the white house. I have a very hard time believing that the police blew her off because she let the child go with someone she knew. That just doesn't make sense. She was the legal mother, the other person wasn't. Why wouldn't they look for the child? Something is not adding up. Even the guy telling the story said something like "the police wouldn't look according to her". As if he didn't quite buy it either.
    She talked about how upset she was but her actions sure didn't show that. Just go home when your child is missing? Who would have just given up so easily in that case?
    And if I were the girl I would have been upset that they didn't seem too broken up by her "kidnapping". Look at all the Jaycee Dugard's famiy did to find her. And this poor girl didn't even get a missing poster. Was she even registered with any child locating service?
     
  5. katydid23

    katydid23 Verified Juanette

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    I think it was impossible to involve LE because of the hinky adoption. I think they took in the baby because they knew it was going to be a better homelife for the baby. But they also admitted it was not legit from the get go. imo
     
  6. BrownRice

    BrownRice Well-Known Member

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    That was my feeling too. And remember it was back in the 70's and 80's. We didn't have CNN and all the media resources. Everything was localized.

    I'm happy the adoptive parents were able to reunite with her before the mom died. I thought it said a lot that the parents were still married.
     
  7. less0305

    less0305 The face is familiar, but I can't quite remember m

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    I agree also. I think they knew the baby coming to them at 3 months wasn't really on the up-and-up. I think they even said words to that effect. I'm not even sure how the adoption ever became legal, but that was a different time and era. And yes, the news was very localized with no 24 hour news stations or the internet. It was a heart wrenching story. I'm glad she's doing well now and have the remaining years with her adoptive parents and her half-sister.
     
  8. tfrohning

    tfrohning Rest in Peace

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    I so confused on this one with Rhonda...I like to see it again. But I really think that Shirley was the real mom or bio grandma. JMO I still don't understand why Gloria involved?

    I have many questions after watching this case. Both girls seem to be strong and I wish the best for both of them. I still feel that Dateline only touch the surface of the real story.
     
  9. Nana46

    Nana46 Runs with Scissors

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    Agree with all of you. This story broke my heart. I just figured since the era it happened in there were not many resources to use to look for her. I missed the part about the adoption but no matter.....was just an emotional story all the way around.
     
  10. feddup

    feddup New Member

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    Thats what I think.....my MIL knew some people who had a small Grandson taken, they never did find him.
    Im happy for Rhonda. Her adopted parents seem like they wanted a baby so bad they were willing to grab the first one. You can tell the Mother was crazy about her....all the pics, the beautiful canopy bed. Its so sad
    that all those yrs Rhonda missed out on those wonderful parents.
    The Mother made a mistake but Rhonda doesnt seem to hold it against her why should we?
    Its nice the way they include Rhonda's Sister in things, too. Rhonda is happy now thats all that matters. Think if she would've never found them? The Mother is very sick from terminal cancer, she might not have been able to recall everything. Give her a break, the poor woman.
     
  11. feddup

    feddup New Member

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    Actually, the older Sister kind of took up for Shirley....saying it couldve been worse. But Im still wondering why Shirley took them, she obviously didnt have the resourcs to care for them in a proper way. They do both seem strong!
     
  12. DairyGirl

    DairyGirl New Member

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    I thought I remembered the mother saying that the adoption was legal and that she was all theirs and no one could take her away from them. Maybe I misheard.
    I realize things were different then but really, I've seen people look for their lost pets more. Even if it was an "iffy" adoption, wouldn't it be more important to know that the child was safe?
     
  13. suzihawk

    suzihawk New Member

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    This is what I recall as well. The adoption wasn't legal at first but then after Shirley took the chld and didn't return her that first time they made it legal. Which begs the question why the adoptive mother would ever allow Shirley near her child a second time. I dunno... the story was most compelling and my heart just broke for Rhonda/Pepper. I'm not sure there were any illegalities involved concerning the adoptive parents but something is 'off' with the whole story. I understand that the mother was in ill health but I was surprised by her lack of emotion.
     
  14. tfrohning

    tfrohning Rest in Peace

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    that my thoughts.... that why I feel that Shirley is bio grandma rather than mom. I am thankful that they were not abuse in anyway. But they had no childhood. :(

    My girls were in school in 80s and I had to show shots record and birth certificate.
    I wondering how they even got in school. oh so many questions!!!

    what really got me was Shirley would not give up any information even on her death bed. :waitasec:
     
  15. tfrohning

    tfrohning Rest in Peace

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    and how did Shirley end up with the Half sister too? I think I must missed the part how they found out they were half sister. All I remember hearing was they found out they were half sister.
     
  16. Patience

    Patience Active Member

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  17. Swirlz

    Swirlz Well-Known Member

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    You can't do anything without a soc. sec. number. I wonder how she was able to work at all.
     
  18. burbqueen

    burbqueen New Member

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    I do not think Shirley was the BIO mom at all. The story she told birth girls was that they were sisters and had the same mom some prostitute named Geri. Someone should know something about shirley. Where did she come from? Who are her parents and family?

    Also, DNA testing could show some sort of connection between the sisters? For some reason I dont think they are related. I do believe that both Rhonda and gloria are ethnically mixed with either black or hispanic. If I were either one of them I would sign up for testing.

    As for the adopted parents I felt they did all they could. This was the 80's and yeah the adoption wasnt legal. Im sure LE wasnt too helpful and maybe a little racisim too. I'm sure they saw the pictures of Rhonda and saw that she wasnt exactly caucasian and probably didnt push the issue too much and thought maybe the baby was taken back by her real parents.
     
  19. Swirlz

    Swirlz Well-Known Member

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  20. future criminologist

    future criminologist Active Member

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    This story SO confuses me, even more so now since an update aired on Dateline tonight. So, Rhonda and Renee found their birth mother - her name is Jheri Coleman - that they were taken from by Shirley, who was their babysitter but then took off with them. She denies being a prostitute, or a drug addict, admits she had problems - 3 of her children were by a man who was in and out of her life, (but I suspect from the story that he might have been her pimp).

    What confuses me is this: the birth mom has pictures of herself with Renee and Rhonda/Pepper and her baby son. Rhonda/Pepper is clearly older than 3 months in these pictures. But Rhonda/Pepper was supposedly with the adoptive parents from the ages of 3 months to 4 years. and Rhonda/Pepper and Renee have no memory with the birth mother. So...when were they with the birth mom exactly? I feel like I really need a written timeline to piece it all together.

    The younger brother's name is Ray Smith. He was also reunited with them. Here's an article:

    http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20110603/UPDATES01/110603008/-No-heading-

    The kidnapper's name was Shirley Berthelot. The birth mom's name, according to the article above, is Jehri Coleman. I'd like to do some digging on both of them to get a more complete picture of all this...
     
  21. rachelle

    rachelle New Member

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    I had this DVR'd and watched it tonight and have the same exact questions you do! Very interesting story and I believe there is definitely more to it.

    Whatever you may find will you please share....I would love to know more! :)
     

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