Milwaukee's Alexis Patterson missing 20 years, mom believes she's alive

Twenty years later, Alexis Patterson's mother and family are holding onto hope she will return home. The 7-year-old Milwaukee girl went missing after walking to school with her stepfather in 2002.

Her mother is convinced Alexis is still alive.

Ayanna Patterson was adamant in saying a woman living in Ohio is her daughter. Milwaukee police tested that woman's DNA in 2016 and concluded she isn't Alexis, but that hasn't stopped Ayanna from searching.

Facing heartbreak, this mother's intuition has never wavered.

Alexis Patterson

Alexis Patterson

"I'm not giving up, ever," said Patterson. "Just, I'm not giving up."

It was May 3, 2002. Alexis Patterson walked with her stepfather, LaRon Bourgeois, to Hi-Mount Elementary School near 49th and Garfield. Bourgeois watched her cross the street, but Alexis never made it to class and she hasn't been seen since.

"Alexis, Mama coming for you, and you know it," said Patterson. 

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On Sunday, Patterson hosted family and close friends for an awakening event.

Ayanna Patterson

Ayanna Patterson

"We waking the community up. We waking the world up. We letting you guys know we waiting for Alexis, and we know she's coming home," said Patterson. 

Patterson insists a woman living in Ohio is Alexis, despite Milwaukee police testing her DNA and determining there wasn't a match back in 2016. She admits that fueled frustration with Milwaukee police.

"That's what I want the community to do -- believe me when I say my daughter is alive," said Patterson. 

Those gathered also heard from some of Alexis' former teachers, who share in the grief and pain of missing Alexis.

Alexis Patterson

Alexis Patterson

"It's very emotional for me to lose a child that's in your classroom, and all the kids in my classroom were my children," said Deb Reuland, Alexis' first-grade teacher.

They shared in the hope that somehow, Alexis will find her way home.

"She's missing, but never, never forgotten," said Benedicta Graves, Alexis' kindergarten teacher.

Bourgeois died last year of a suspected overdose.

Alexis Patterson

Alexis Patterson

Patterson says there will be some sort of gathering at Hi-Mount School around 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 3. 

Milwaukee police still say anyone with information on this case should call them right away.