The Disappearance of Ali Lowitzer

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EARLY LIFE:

Alexandria “Ali” Lowitzer was born on February 3, 1994 to parents Jo Ann and John Lowitzer. The youngest of two children, she was a loyal and caring young girl who grew up in the town of Spring, Texas, just north of Houston.

Ali was a member of a close-knit family. She and her older brother, Mason, were both very loving toward each other, despite engaging in sibling rivalry. Her parents were both workers at shipping logistics companies. In 2008, they separated, with the kids living with their mother. While Ali held anger toward her father about the separation, John was still a staple in the kids’ lives.

Ali was a creative and energetic child, with interests in reading and art, the latter of which she was hoping to pursue during college. She sang in her school choir, was a girl scout while she was younger and had been a member of a softball team during her early teen years.

A sophomore at Spring High School, Ali was very social, with a large group of friends whom she would frequently call and text – on average, her phone records would show around 3,000 texts a month. She also had a budding relationship with a fellow classmate named DJ.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

April 26, 2010 started out as a regular day in the Lowitzer household, with Ali leaving the house around 7:00am to catch the school bus.

At 2:30pm, she was riding the school bus home when she called her mother to let her know she’d forgotten her house key. Her mother assured her the door would be unlocked, as Mason had not yet left for the day.

Ali then asked if she could walk to work at the local Burger Barn about a quarter mile away to pick up her paycheque and inquire about picking up a shift that night. Her mother initially denied her request, as Ali had never walked to work before and there was no sidewalk along the road, but after a brief argument she relented.

DISAPPEARANCE:

Jo Ann returned home from work at 5:30pm to find Ali was not home. Believing Ali had managed to pick up a shift and had just forgotten to tell her, she didn’t think much of it and simply texted her daughter to ask her when she needed picked up.

At 9:00pm, Jo Ann had still not received a response to her text, so she drove to the Burger Barn, only to find the restaurant was closed. Feeling something was wrong, she called John, who told her not to worry, believing Ali was probably at a friends house and had forgotten to call them. However, upon contacting those Ali was close to, it became apparent she was not with her friends.

Jo Ann then drove to DJ’s house, where she learnt he too had not received answers to his own calls and texts to Ali. After speaking with him, Jo Ann proceeded to drive around the neighbourhood, but could find no sign of her daughter.

At 11:00pm, Jo Ann called the police to report her daughter as missing.

SEARCH:

Around midnight, a deputy arrived at Jo Ann’s house, as did John. After a search and questioning Jo Ann and John, the deputy said there was no evidence of foul play and Ali would probably return home in the morning. Much to her parents’ dismay, they were told to contact police in the morning with an update.

Throughout the night, Mason and his friends searched the neighbourhood for his sister, while Jo Ann stayed up hoping her daughter would return home. At 5:00am, she phoned John to let him know Ali was still missing.

9:00am rolled around and Jo Ann once again called the police, only to be told Ali was probably a runaway, a theory the family disputed given Ali didn’t have a history of doing so. She had also left behind her makeup, money and phone charger. Given her status as a runaway, police didn’t open a missing persons investigation into Ali’s case, nor did they issue an AMBER Alert, so the family started their own investigation.

John phoned the school bus company and was able to view security video from the day before. It showed Ali getting on the bus in the morning and off later that afternoon. Two boys had gotten off the bus with her at the stop on Low Ridge Road and they claimed she’d walked away in the opposite direction, toward the Burger Barn.

John then went to the Burger Barn to speak with Ali’s manager, who said Ali hadn’t been at the restaurant at the night before. This was corroborated by security footage from a nearby gas station, which failed to show Ali in the area.

During their search, Ali’s parents made numerous calls to their daughter, with no response. Jo Ann remembered their cellphone provider had a GPS tool that would allow them to pinpoint where Ali’s phone was. However, it appears Ali’s phone either lost power or was turned off near the edge of the neighbourhood and could not be pinged any further.

Jo Ann also looked through Ali’s phone records from the day she went missing and saw her daughter had texted a friend named Jay around 2:50pm, asking him to come by the house and hang out. He had texted her back and let her know he was unable to, and was later cleared by police of any involvement in the case.

While looking into Ali’s phone records, her family learnt their phone provider was unable to offer them the contents of her messages from the days leading up to her disappearance. However, they were able to obtain the dates, times and numbers, the latter of which were all called.

On May 3, 2010, the family re-approached police with the information they’d gathered, but Ali’s status was only changed from “runaway” to “endangered runaway”. Investigators looked through her old journals, which showed mentions of wanting to runaway. When pressed about this, her family once again disputed the theory, saying Ali’s writings did not reflect her current feelings.

Not long after, leads stopped coming into the family. Each night, Jo Ann would text her daughter, hoping for a response. None ever came.

Hoping to reignite the investigation, the Lowitzers enlisted the help of the Laura Recovery Centre, which helps to find missing and abducted children. They helped create flyers, conducted door-to-door interviews and organized ground searches using scent dogs, ATVs, searches on horseback and volunteers.

During one of the searches, the dogs were able to pick up on Ali’s scent. However, the team were unable to determine if it was a fresh track or one that had been there for a long time.

The searches caught the attention of local media, who picked up the story. Ali’s family appeared on the news, appealing for their daughter to come back home, and they helped to raise a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the missing girl’s return.

In late May 2010, the case was transferred to homicide detectives at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, in the hopes of generating more leads. Similarly to before, the family filled in investigators on what they’d already uncovered.

The investigators began their investigation by looking at the Lowitzer family, interviewing them and, in particular, subjecting John and Mason to polygraph tests. While both passed, only John has been cleared on any involvement in Ali’s disappearance.

Ali’s family created a Facebook page to help bring in new tips and helped launch the #HopeForAli campaign.

In the months that followed, the ground searches were called off and the news stories surrounding the case stopped, leading to the case going cold.

In 2012, a private investigator hired by the Lowitzer family brought up the idea that convicted killer Brandon Lavergne might be involved in Ali’s disappearance. Lavergne was accused of killing two women, Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate, in Louisanna and his white truck had been seen in the Spring area around the time Ali went missing. A witness had called in, saying he’d seen a young girl talking to someone in a similar truck near the Burger Barn. He’d managed to grab a few numbers off the license plate, which were matched to Lavergne.

Lavergne also had ties to the Spring area via his family, and his burnt out truck had been discovered 50 miles out of town. Police questioned him in regards to Ali’s disappearance, but he was able to provide an alibi that was verified through his former employer.

To further help bring in new leads, the Lowitzers hired a second private investigator, Amber Cammack, who believed Ali could have been the victim of human trafficking and thus could be anywhere in the United States.

This theory was further pushed forward in October 2012, when Jo Ann received a call from a woman in Columbus, Ohio. The woman said she had seen Ali’s missing person website and claimed she looked similar to a girl she’d seen at a local church function for the homeless. The girl had been quiet, which made the woman think she was being forced to not make contact with others.

Given drugs and sex trafficking are rampant in the Columbus area, Amber travelled to the city to work undercover with police, where she visited several crack houses and brothels. Four weeks in, she came in contact with an undercover cop who was unaware of her search. He told Amber that he’d seen Ali, who was going by her nickname Ali Cat. While he was aware she was from Texas, he didn’t know she was a missing person.

In November 2012, Amber was put in contact with a police informant named Amy, who immediately recognized Ali when shown a picture. She recalled the scar on the missing girl’s forehead and called her by the Ali Cat nickname. In exchange for money, Amy brought Amber to the house Ali was believed to be held. However, while a girl resembling Ali was seen, Amber had no way of accessing her.

Following the encounter, Amber flew back to Texas to update the Lowitzers.

In December 2012, Ali’s parents flew to Columbus, hoping to reunite with their daughter. They were introduced to Amy and a plan was hatched to bring Ali back home with the help of local police.

The plan was executed in January 2013. Amber entered the house wearing a wire, with a SWAT team nearby. When police entered, several arrests were made and eight girls were saved, but Ali was no where to be seen. Given her absence, it’s believed her captors might have been tipped off beforehand about the raid.

THEORIES:

1) Police initially held the belief Ali is a runaway and her case is still classified as such. This is due to the writings in her journal and the lack of evidence pointing toward an abduction. However, her family adamantly denies this, given Ali had no history of running away and had left behind important possessions.

2) Ali’s family believes she was abducted by a stranger. However, they have no evidence pointing toward if she’s alive and being held against her will or if she is currently deceased.

This theory is supported by a similar incident that occurred before Ali’s disappearance. A girl from the area had been the victim of an attempted abduction, having been forced into a car by an unknown male. She was able to escape by biting her abductor and running from the car.

3) Amber Cammack believes Ali to be the victim of human trafficking, given the reported sightings in Ohio. However, police in Texas doubt this, given that Ali’s fingerprints have yet to match any already uploaded to their databases. They believe if Ali was being trafficked then she would have had a run in with the law by this point.

AFTERMATH:

As of publishing, the police investigation is at a standstill, with Ali’s family having voiced their frustration with how the case has been handled.

Mason has since moved to Seattle, Washington. Jo Ann still lives in the same house, in case Ali returns home. Her daughter’s room remains as it was on the day of her disappearance.

Jo Ann has dedicated herself to finding her daughter. A few years after Ali’s disappearance, she petitioned for a nationally recognized day of missing persons. As a result, Houston’s Missing Person Day occurs annually on February 3, while the state-wide day is recognized on April 26.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Alexandria Lowitzer went missing from Spring, Texas on April 26, 2010. She was sixteen years old and was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, a grey hooded sweater, black and white checkered skinny jeans, black sneakers and a multi-coloured backpack with dark straps. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5’2″ and 145 pounds. She has naturally brown hair that had been dyed red and blue eyes, with a chicken pox scar on her forehead and pink braces on her teeth.

Currently, her case is classified as endangered missing. If alive, she would be 24 years old.

If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at 713-274-9100.

Image Credit: WAFB

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