MILWAUKEE -- It has been 14 years since a Milwaukee first grader disappeared from the area near Hi-Mount Community School in Milwaukee. Since then, we've been following every move in the missing person's case involving Alexis Patterson, who disappeared when she was seven years old.
May 3rd, 2002 started out like any other day. Alexis Patterson walked to Hi-Mount Community School with her stepfather.
"She was upset that day because today is her snack day but she hadn't been too good with her homework, so we didn't let her take her snacks," Patterson's stepfather, LaRon Bourgeois said.
Her stepfather said goodbye -- and that was the last time anyone would see Alexis Patterson.
She never showed up for class.
In the days that followed, police went door-to-door -- asking people whether they'd seen the missing seven-year-old girl.
Still, there was no sign of Alexis.
Hi-Mount Boulevard Community School
The search was expanded. Divers searched a lagoon at Washington Park. Officers on horseback searched the ground, while helicopters took to the sky. Volunteers joined the search effort.
Still, Alexis Patterson was nowhere to be found.
Soon, the case of the missing Milwaukee seven-year-old made national headlines.
Alexis Patterson's mother and stepfather
One year after she vanished, investigators were still no closer to finding her.
In 2004, a tip took police to Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- but nothing turned up.
With each passing year, police followed dead-end tips, but her family remained hopeful.
Search for Alexis Patterson
"My strength is to never, ever give up and that's something that I won't do. La La will be home," Patterson's mother Ayanna said.
In 2009, seven years after she disappeared, the case was officially assigned to the Milwaukee Police Department's Cold Case Unit. The years ticked by, and still, there was no Alexis Patterson.
In 2012, the community marked the 10-year anniversary of her disappearance.
"Today is literally as difficult as that day 10 years ago. There is no comfort, no solace for the parents of the missing child, and we know that," Edward Bailey with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said.
"You know that we love you and whoever have Le Le, just release her," Patterson's mother Ayanna said.
In 2013, police released an age-progressed photo of what Alexis Patterson might have looked like at age 17 in the hopes of drumming up new leads. Each year, community leaders walk the route Alexis took to school on that day in May of 2002 -- and a wreath is laid in her memory.
Her family remains hopeful -- but the same question remains: Where is Alexis Patterson?
It's a question that could be answered soon.
Police are investigating a new lead in Ohio. On Friday, July 8th, FOX6 News learned Milwaukee police received a tip from someone in Ohio claiming a woman he knows may be Patterson.
Police have the woman's DNA and it is being tested.
Right now, police say there's no concrete evidence to suggest the person in Ohio is Alexis Patterson.
Police in Ohio said Monday, July 11th they have a birth certificate, a passport and divorce documents from the woman in Ohio showing that she is not Alexis Patterson.
Police in Milwaukee continue to wait for the results of the DNA test.