LIBERTY, Mo. -- Patti Tam has waited for answers for nearly three years. That’s how long her youngest child, Desirea Ferris, has been missing.
"Her room is pretty much the same. I mean, besides the big poster boards that we hung up, I mean, it's just Bruno Mars or Michael Jackson," she said.
Desirea disappeared in the early morning hours of May 2, 2017. Her daughter’s last gesture came in the form of a birthday card.
"That morning I got up for work and I came down here and the light was on, the TV was on, but they were gone," Tam said. "She put a birthday card on her pillow for me."
A search warrant filed in the case says witnesses saw Desirea with two men the night before she went missing.
"The prime suspect. Yeah, he was arrested 10 days, 11 days after Desiree went missing on unrelated charges. So he's been in federal prison since," Tam said.
One of those men, Robert Keegan, was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison on drug charges.
"We was told that one point that when he, the attorney general, whatever prosecutor went to talk to him, he went and tell him anything he wanted full immunity on anything to do with her disappearance. What does that tell you? Guilty. Yeah," the metro mother said.
Witnesses told police that Desirea was with Keegan on the afternoon of May 1, when he dropped her off at a McDonald's on Van Brunt Boulevard.
From there, witnesses said another man, Mark Arzola, gave her a ride to a McDonald's in Liberty. He told investigators that he then gave her a ride to a house at 81st and Highland in south Kansas City.
Her cell phone last pinged just a few miles away.
"Two weeks in, the PD finally got her ping, got a search warrant from Verizon to get all of her pings. I don't know how they can tell if it was turned off or died, but they said no, it was physically turned off."
At one time, the case generated national attention, but as the months drag on, leads have dried up.
So they're taking action on their own. The family has started their own tip line.
"We have a separate tip line. If people don't want to call the cops, we have a separate tip line, you could call, text, whatever -- and it's anonymous," Tam said.
Liberty police declined FOX4 request for an interview, but said in a statement that there are people incarcerated for federal offenses who may have information on Desirea’s disappearance, and that some people interviewed have invoked their Miranda rights.
Even with the years dragging on, Tam said they will bring Desira home one way or another.
"Until I have proof or until she comes to that door, whether she's on her own two feet or I'm carrying her, then I'll believe whatever happened," she said.
Anyone wishing to contact the family's private tip line can contact 816-945-2722. All tips are forwarded to law enforcement.
A $12,500 is available in the case.
The Liberty Police Department issued the following statement to FOX4:
"FOX 4 along with other local media have been helpful in providing publicity for leads. In addition, this case was first nationally publicized on the television program Crime Watch Daily, which first aired on January 31st, 2018. It was also covered in an issue of People magazine, as well as a recent Maury Show on television."
"As you know, we are a suburban police department located on the northeast side of Kansas City, Missouri. Desirea grew up here in Liberty, and she was reported missing to our department. One of the more challenging aspects of this investigation for our detectives has been that the entire investigation has revolved around people and locations in south Kansas City, across the metropolitan area away from our jurisdiction."
"The national media exposure, while potentially helpful, has also generated many leads which are checked out, but unfortunately have not advanced the investigation. The Liberty Police Department has handled this case as the highest of priorities. We have received assistance from other agencies during this investigation, which includes KCPD, other area law enforcement agencies, as well as federal law enforcement."
"There are subjects who are incarcerated for federal offenses who may have information about the disappearance of Desirea Ferris. Investigators believe these people have not disclosed all they know to law enforcement."
"Detectives have either interviewed them, or attempted to interview them, during the course of this investigation. Some people interviewed for this investigation have invoked their Miranda rights."
"Once someone in custody invokes Miranda by expressing a desire to remain silent or have legal counsel present, police must stop interrogation. Investigators have maintained contact with Desirea Ferris's family and helped coordinate communications with the family and federal law enforcement."
"We are careful not to release information that may have the unintended consequence of endangering the successful completion of this investigation. Tips continue to come in from time to time, and this investigation remains active. Anyone with information for this case, especially first hand information, should call the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS hotline at 816-474-8477."