Missing for a Decade: The Desiree Thompson story

Posted at 8:31 AM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 19:50:26-05

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (KERO) — It’s been 10 years since Sheri Smith last heard her daughter's voice. While Desiree Thompson’s story is just one of eight cases considered cold out of Cal City, police and her family are hoping someone will come forward with even the smallest detail, to help them break the case.

“I miss her,” Smith said. “She was just a beautiful person.”

Smith says having no answers to her daughter’s whereabouts after all these years leaves her disheartened.

“I’m so frustrated with this case. I just want closure for my daughter. I want to bring my daughter home, and I want justice for my daughter and I want everyone held accountable,” she said.

According to Smith, the morning of Jan. 7, 2012, she went to go see her daughter who told her she’d been in an argument with her estranged husband. Smith said her daughter told her it was at their home in 68th Street in Cal City that he threatened her with a shotgun. Later that evening, Smith said her daughter was at an acquaintance’s home using their cell phone, and that she wanted to go back to her home that night.

The next day, Smith went to her daughter’s home to find she wasn’t there. Another acquaintance said she never returned that night and they reported her missing.

Smith said she called back the number Desiree had used the night before, and the owner of the phone said Desiree had gone to the Cactus Mini Mart to buy a cigarette. It was here on 83rd Street that she was last seen.

“For someone just to vanish, without a trace of course that’s unusual,” said Cal City Police Chief Jon Walker.

Chief Walker said Desiree’s estranged husband, Edward Gibson III, is a person of interest and has a history of domestic violence, but he says so far they’ve yet to find a concrete piece of evidence connecting him to Desiree’s disappearance that night.

“You only get one shot. You only get one bite of the apple. So if you don’t have enough to convict them and they walk, then the double jeopardy comes in,” Walker said.

A former investigator on the case said the department has worked hard and is actively investigating cold cases like Desiree’s, but staff turnover and a lack of resources over the years has made it difficult.

Chief Walker says the difficulty with these cases isn’t a lack of resources, but making sure they get it right all the way through to conviction.

“We’re pretty sure we know where to find him if need be,” he said. “That’s what would happen if we got that evidence to say this person did it, an eyewitness, video, then we’ll put that together..”

Smith takes little solace in this, saying she knows there are witnesses to the domestic dispute that evening. She says she knows her daughter would never leave without her children and go this long without any contact.

“When does your conscience start working, when does the compassion come in to help these families,” she said.

There is a $25,000 reward for any information regarding this case. Anyone with information is asked to call Cal City Police at (760) 373-8606.