Feb. 19, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
After arriving in New York City on Jan. 14, Joy Shields intended to surprise her sister Sierra at her Astoria apartment.
But Sierra was not home. So, Joy said, she left a note and headed to a hotel, unaware that her sister, a flight attendant, had gone missing from LaGuardia Airport that day.
It has been more than five weeks since Joy arrived and she has yet to reunite with her sister.
Since that day, the Shields family has traveled from Illinois to search for their “kindhearted,” “generous” daughter, in the words of Sierra’s mother Donna. They remain here with more questions than answers.
“Sierra is a beautiful young lady with deep aspirations – she enjoys life,” Donna said. “We are simply wanting her back. We have no idea what happened. No idea.”
The Shields family noticed a couple of curious incidents that occurred before Sierra went missing, though their relevance to the disappearance remains unclear.
First, there was the conversation that brought Joy to New York in the first place.
According to Joy, she spoke with Sierra on the day of her disappearance, and noticed that “Sierra didn’t sound like herself.”
“It’s that sisterly intuition,” Joy said. “It wasn’t anything that she said, it was how she sounded. Sierra is just the happiest, most bubbly person that you could ever imagine being around, and she wasn’t [then].”
“I called my mom after we hung up and I said, ‘I need to see her.’ I need to look her in the eye and make sure she’s ok,” Joy continued.
Then, according to the Shields family, Sierra had met with a supervisor and asked for a union representative before she went missing from LaGuardia.
A representative for the Teamsters union – which is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Sierra’s whereabouts – said she did not have information on this.
The family has opened a crowdfunding page to support their search, which as of Friday has raised nearly $5,000. They have also opened a “Find Sierra Shields” Facebook page that has garnered more than 10,000 likes.
“[The response] has been tremendous,” Donna said.
However, as the weeks move by, “the days are hard. Nights are longer,” Donna said. “Just not knowing where Sierra is has taken an emotional toll – the hardest thing we’ve ever dealt with as a family.”
As of Friday, Sierra’s whereabouts are still unknown, according to police. Anyone with information is asked to call NYPD Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.