MILWAUKEE — LaRon Bourgeois, Alexis Patterson's stepfather and also the last person to see her before she went missing 19 years ago, was found dead in his home of a suspected drug overdose.
Bourgeois was the last person to see Alexis in 2002. He told police he walked the 7-year-old girl towards Hi-Mount Elementary School. Bourgeois said he saw her cross the street, and students also told police they saw her outside, but teachers said she never made it in.
Since her disappearance, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has digitally updated Patterson's picture in hopes someone will recognize her.
“There is still a great effort to keep her image out into the community. That this child is still missing. We want to know what happened to her,” said John Biscoff of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
On the 15th anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Ayanna Patterson told us she believes Alexis is still alive.
“I’ve never doubted in my mind she was coming home," said Patterson.
Bourgeois' mother told us her son has believed the same. She said LaRon has never stopped hoping Alexis would be found.
Over the years, Ayanna Patterson and Bourgeois divorced. Bourgeois' mom says the two still communicated and he would think about Alexis all the time. They have a different child together and were supposed to be in court Jan. 28 for a custody hearing.
A former neighbor of Alexis and someone who helped in the search effort, Christopher Schwartz, says he hopes after all this time someone will consider speaking out.
“I've always believed eventually someone would come forward with more information. It’s just anyone’s guess what happened. It’s just so odd that one day she there and the next she is gone," said Schwartz.
Milwaukee Police said they are investigating Alexis Patterson's disappearance and still get tips. MPS said the latest tip they received came in just last week.
An official cause of death for Bourgeois, 52, and his wife Michelle Bourgeois, 53 hasn't been released yet, but the Medical Examiner noted that the couple had a history of drug abuse. Officers found drug evidence in the home, including a white powder substance and a glass pipe. The case remains under investigation.