The Teller County Sheriff’s Office is still continuing an investigation into the case surrounding a 25-year-old mother, who recently moved into the Woodland Park area and may have had ties with a North Carolina-based religious group, and her missing 6-year-old son.
The mother, Vania Sisk, was recently found unharmed in El Paso County. However, her child still remains missing. Authorities believe that Sisk, and a group of friends, have returned to North Carolina. “The child is still missing,” said Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger, who described the case as extremely unusual. The sheriff, though, noted that the child was never actually seen in Teller County.
Ensminger declined to comment about allegations of the group belonging to a home-based church group, known as Black Hebrews. Members of the group had reportedly been under investigation for what one witness described as “horrific,” abuse of children. No arrests occurred, but nine children, who were staying at the residence, were removed from the home and placed into protective custody. The children are now in Durham, North Carolina.
Sisk and five other adults and nine children recently moved to a home in the Sunnywood subdivision. At the request of authorities from North Carolina and Colorado Springs, sheriff officials questioned Sisk about her son. The son was last seen in October, but according to authorities, Sisk never reported his disappearance. Authorities in North Carolina had been pursuing an investigation into her missing child.
Sheriff deputies got suspicious when Sisk didn’t show up for a Department of Social Service appointment on Feb. 24. According to one report, she was last seen at the Wal-Mart in Woodland Park Speculation abounded that she may have fled the area.Sisk also reportedly left a note to one of the people staying at the home, indicating that she didn’t want authorities to take her son.
But early last week, Sisk contacted the sheriff’s office in El Paso County and told authorities she was “okay.” Lt. Lari Sevene, a spokesperson for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office stated that the Sisk is no longer considered to be missing. She and a group of people, reportedly with ties to the Black Hebrews, had been renting a home at 205 E. Ridge Drive, according to sheriff authorities.
According to websites, the Black Hebrews believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. They adhere to some of the same practices of Judaism, but are not recognized by Jews. The group was founded in the United States in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. They have a reported membership of between 25,000 and 40,000. Some members of the group have what certain officials describe as “black supremacy” views, but most members aren’t considered extremists, according to most reports. They have been described more as an extended family.
What Sisk and her friends were doing in Woodland Park is still unclear. The home, which had been vacant for months, was suddenly filled with people, according to several reports. Neighbors said that much activity occurred at the home recently. “They were more than just acquaintances,” said Ensminger, when reports of a missing mother and child first circulated. Sheriff authorities initially pursued a search for both Sisk and her son.
Then on Feb. 28, Sisk was discovered, but her son was still considered missing. Authorities say the home is vacant again. “They have all gone back to North Carolina,” said Ensminger.