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Search for teen continues

By Leesha Faulkner

And Desiree Taylor

The Selma Times-Journal

For nearly a week now troops of individuals have marched over Selma and Dallas County, passed out fliers and taken information down on a 17-year-old girl who went missing Saturday morning.

No word and no new leads have developed in the search for Tarasha “Pooh” Benjamin, who took off Saturday morning from her house to go to the local flea market and has yet to return or call home.

“There have been several alleged sightings, and we follow up on each from sun up to sundown each day,” said Angela Benjamin, city council member for Ward 4 and a relative of the missing girl.

About two dozen people gathered at the Larry D. Striplin Performing Arts Center on Wednesday afternoon to organize yet another search.

Mayor George Evans met with the group of volunteers made up of friends, family members and those who wanted to pitch in. He praised the searchers for working together.

“This is a real sad occasion,” Evans said. “People come up and get lost; that’s what I hope this is. God knows, I hope that’s what it is.”

Volunteers received a quick lesson from the city council member, who is in contact with local law enforcement, about how to question people and write information on small notebooks given them.

The information is important, said police Chief William Riley III.

“The key is when somebody gives you information, please ask the hard question: Where they got the information. Don’t send us on a wild goose chase,” he told the group. “Ask ‘who told you they saw her?’ Write it down. Call us. Call 911 with the information. The key is we need to find out where she went and the last person she was seen with. This is what we need to tell us where to go.”

When Tarasha Benjamin left her home on Dogwood in Cahaba Park West, she wore short denim shorts, a white short-sleeve shirt with lime and purple strips, a silver necklace she never removes and silver sandals. Her hair was pulled back into a pony tail.

Tarasha has a tattoo on her upper right arm, the word “Pooh,” her nickname, her mother, Regina Benjamin said.

The search will continue until the teenager is found.

Organizers of the search say they need a donation of a building to use as a central headquarters and volunteers to staff it daily. “A wireless Internet building is ideal for this situation,” Angela Benjamin said.

Additional needs include copies of the missing handbill, water, Gatorade, food, pens, small pocket tablets and nutritional snacks that can be carried in pockets. Other needs are a few laptop computers and volunteers to walk the streets.

“And we need prayer,” the council member said. “We need lots of prayer.”

Benjamin said everyone on Facebook is asked to conduct a daily three-point check before contacting the family: Check the events tab; discussions tab and the wall.

“We also ask that all false reports of Tarasha’s body being found to stop,” Benjamin said. “This only stops the community from searching for her. Get the information from the family.”