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Aiken County woman still searching for granddaughter 20 years later

Tilwana Cheatham at eight years old (left) and how investigators believe she may look now.

News 12 First at Five, August 11, 2009

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. --- Twenty years ago today, Aiken County investigators began their search for then eight-year-old Tilwana Cheatham. Her case is now the second oldest missing person case in the county and investigators say they're still looking for answers.

"There's not a day that goes by I don't see that child's face or think about that child. I have to travel 19 every single day and wish that we had found her," said Lt. Becky Edmonds of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Lt. Becky Edmonds is still wishing she could piece together the puzzle of what happened to then 8-year old Tilwana Cheatham. "It just brings it all back. It hurts. I'm heartbroken to be honest because we haven't found her," said Lt. Edmonds.

Investigators say on August 11, 1989, the 8-year old was walking on Balltown Drive headed to the store for ice cream. The only problem, she would never return home.
Loved ones like her grandmother are still looking.

"I think somebody knows where she is because I sure don't believe she's dead," said Tilwana's grandmother Catherine Cheatham. She says the hardest part of it all is she believes her granddaughter tried to call her from a nearby pay phone the day she went missing.

"When I got here, the phone was ringing and ringing. But I've got a tall step on the back and went down and fell. When I got back up, the phone quit ringing and they said it was her calling me," said Catherine.

Both the family and investigators say that phone call leaves them wondering and looking for clues to what happened.

"It goes through you. It's a hard thing to swallow, it really is. It's just misery thinking about it, but it's nothing you can do about it," said Catherine.

"I hope someone out there can come up with some information or if Tilwana's out there, that she sees this and calls in," said Lt. Edmonds.

Investigators say cases like Tilwana's remain open until the people they're looking for are found. Investigators say they did question a truck driver who had been in the area and was said to be a child molester. However, they say there wasn't enough evidence for them to make an arrest.

Again, this case is still open and if you have any information, you're asked to call the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.