police detectives worked closely with the Florida Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children and other special agencies to help uncover a six-year-old girl’s remains.
Her name is Ashani Creighton.
She went missing about 15 years ago. Florida
detectives received a “very credible” lead that she is buried at 61st
and Mingo in Tulsa
“We are trying to recover a little girl who does not belong under this building,” said Orange County detective, Marcus Robinson. “It is a waiting game.”
Investigators spent Sunday afternoon digging a hole through a concrete floor in a shopping center at 61st and Mingo. Radar detector equipment sensed an anomaly in the soil, which lead crews to cut into the cement. After a 30” by 30” hole, that was six to eight inches deep of cement, was removed archeologists from the University of Oklahoma carefully scraped away at the dirt for six more inches.
They stuck cameras in the soil with probes to see if there was a container with Creighton’s remains inside. Orange County detectiv, Marcus Robinson told FOX23 News a “very credible lead” tipped of Florida investigators back in October that she was buried there.
Almost five hours after they started cutting the first hole, crews determined the void in the ground was a PVC pipe. They were disappointed but determined to continue their search.
They cut another hole soon after that, but that also turned out to be nothing. They checked more spots on Sunday and Monday.
Investigators are using the best technology in the world, according to the Florida detective. A geologist out of the University of Oklahoma used ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to find her remains.
They already sniffed out and cut into several spots in the cement as of Monday afternoon. But time and time again they are not finding what they are looking for. Tulsa Deputy Chief Dennis Larsen described a small tote box that she was placed inside and buried in.
They are using aerial maps from the 1990s to determine the landscaping of 61st and Mingo. It has changed a lot in the last 15 years. Mingo used to be only a two-lane street.
An abandoned house used to sit close to the road then and now a cement shopping center is there where the house’s backyard used to be. That structure was built in 2008. There was once a fence behind the house, and whoever buried her placed it close to that fence. Investigators are still trying to find out where that fence was in about 1999.
“You’re trying to get a fluid picture of stuff that has occurred in the last 15 years,” said Robinson. “Sometimes you’re picking a point of reference to something that is 3D that you’re in front and trying to compare that to a map. It’s not complicated but it’s a challenge.”
There is also a large dirt and debris piled behind the newer structure’s parking lot. The cadaver dogs found the human remains scent in that debris as well, which means investigators could soon be going through that pile this week.
“No matter how this ends we have to make sure this entire area was properly searched,” said Florida’s detective, Marcus Robinson, from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “In essence, we can’t leave a stoned unturned. We have to make sure it’s gritted out and we have searched every possible portion in this parking lot.”
According to the NCMEC, the cold case dates back to 1999. Creighton was last seen on March 21st of 1997. The case was recently re-opened when Florida investigators found credible information that Creighton’s body might be underneath a parking lot at 61st Street and Mingo. They began working with Tulsa Police in October 2011.
“We have to do this search,” said Robinson. “There’s a six year old little girl who has been murdered. We have to do this search it doesn’t matter what it takes.
The building it might be buried under was not erect during the time of the possible crime. It went up in 2008. A geophysicist with the NCMEC is using a radar machine that penetrates through the ground to determine if there are any anomalies or voids in the ground under the cement. Teams started with the back end of the parking lot and moved into the concrete building on Saturday afternoon.
“The reality is when we have a crime committed, especially to a little girl, we have to do what it takes to recover that little girl,” said Robinson.
Creighton was supposed to be in Florida with her grandparents, Ernest and Kaia Jackson, when she was last seen. Reports indicate she went missing between 1997 and 1999. Florida investigators said her family moved around from New Jersey to Florida to Tulsa. While Creighton was missing her grandparents were running from law enforcement. In 1988 they had skipped bail on child abuse charges for torturing one of their children. They were on American’s Most Wanted List. In 2000, they were living in Tulsa where someone recognized them from America’s Most Wanted. They were arrested on the New Jersey charges. At the time Creighton was still missing.
After the arrest, the couple was also charged with another child abuse incident to one of their own children at their home in Tulsa. Kaia Jackson was sentenced to 35 years and Ernest Jackson was found not guilty. He returned to New Jersey to serve twelve years in prison for the 1988 charges.
Detectives did not say anything on Saturday about who may or may not be responsible for Creighton’s possible murder and disappearance.