Missing girl’s family wants answers

Published 10:57 pm Monday, June 28, 2010

Tarasha “Pooh” Benjamin’s face is plastered all over Facebook. Her family hopes the alert will help them find her.

Benjamin’s mother said she last saw her daughter about 10 a.m. Saturday at home.

“She said, ‘Mama, I’m fixin’ to go to the flea market,’” Regina Benjamin said.

Tarasha, 17, walked out of her house wearing short denim shorts, a white short-sleeve shirt with lime and purple stripes, a silver necklace she never removes and silver sandals. She pulled her hair back into a pony tail. Tarasha has a tattoo on her upper right arm, the word, “Pooh,” her nickname, her mother said.

The family has not received telephone calls from Tarasha, which is unusual. She usually checks in several times a day, according to family members.

Calls to Tarasha’s cell phone go directly to voice mail.

On Monday, groups of Tarasha’s family and friends and members of the Selma Police Department started search areas where people said they last saw her.

The leads are like so many threads in a spider web, but police will run down each of them, said police Detective Sgt. Tory Neely.

Neely and other detectives met with at least a dozen family members and friends Monday afternoon on the third floor of the police department in a conference room. Regina Benjamin’s eyes filled with tears as she talked about her daughter’s disappearance.

Tarasha said she would go to the flea market with a friend, Telish Givhan, who drove a gray Mazda truck. The family found Givhan’s truck abandoned on the Cecil Jackson Bypass, Regina Benjamin said.

The truck is in the parking lot at the Selma Police Department. Givhan is in the Dallas County Jail under an old warrant with no bond, according to the jail’s docket sheet.

“This has nothing to do with the missing person,” Neely said.

At least one person saw Tarasha in the gray truck. Theresa Pugh, a family friend, said she saw Tarasha about 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Pugh lives on Small Street.

“I saw her go around the corner,” Pugh said. “She was driving the truck. She was by herself.”

The family has received numerous sightings of Tarasha, including one late Saturday night. A man, who the family did not identify, called Regina Benjamin to tell her he saw a girl fitting her daughter’s description walking along Union Street by the Bosco Center with two other girls. The two other girls took off down an alley, but the girl identified as Tarasha stopped when a black Charger pulled up.

“He said she got into that black Charger,” Regina Benjamin said, her eyes brimming with tears. “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

Anyone seeing someone matching the teenager’s description should call the Selma Police Department’s secret witness line at 874-2190 or Crimestoppers at 877-3530.

The family requests calls with information at Linda Benjamin at 419-0626; Tosha Benjamin at 419-4381 or Wayne House at 267-8007.