Left and Center: D’Wan circa, 1994
Right: Age Progressed to age 24
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: December 11, 1994
Missing From: Livonia, Wayne County, Michigan
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: October 29, 1990
Age: 4 years old
Height and Weight: 3’0″ and 50 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: African American Male, Black hair, Brown eyes, D’Wan has a gap between his two upper front teeth and some agencies spell D’Wan‘s name as “D’wan”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A blue hooded winter jacket which was three-quarters in length, a yellow/blue/green windbreaker, dark blue sweatpants, and low top FILA sneakers
NCMEC Number: 798503
Details of Disappearance
D’Wan was last seen in Livonia, Michigan on December 11th 1994. His mother, Dwanna Harris, told police that he disappeared while at the Wonderland Mall (now known as Wonderland Village) located on the southwest corner of Middlebelt Road and Plymouth Road, approximately one mile south of I-96.
Dwanna claimed they were doing pre-Christmas shopping and that her son was walking close to her while they were in the corridor between the Target store and the main area of the mall when he suddenly disappeared at 2:30 pm. Some agencies place him as going missing from near the Famous Footwear store but either way, Dwanna said he vanished suddenly without a trace.￼
Dwanna stated she searched for her son alone and then with a security guard. Her mother, Beverly Harris, a fire inspector, worked part-time at the mall in a store and she helped her daughter search for the boy as well. The police were called at 4:00 pm when no one could find the child. An extensive search of the mall turned up no trace of D’Wan.
For weeks following his disappearance, police and volunteers searched places such as abandoned buildings, trash containers, and along railroad tracks. They also searched near the home where D’Wan lived with his grandmother and mother bit found no evidence of his whereabouts in any of the pertinent places investigators felt should’ve been searched.
Shortly after his disappearance, investigators announced they doubted Harris’s claim that the boy vanished from the mall. They reviewed surveillance footage from the mall and found no evidence of D’Wan on any of it. They were able to identify Dwanna on some of the tapes and she really didn’t show up on any of them until 4:00 pm when she called the police to inform them of her sons supposed disappearance.
Various witnesses who were at the mall that day also said they didn’t see D’Wan there with his mother. Some of them did report that they had seen Dwanna entering the mall alone at approximately 3:30 pm that day. This would’ve been an hour after her son vanished. Due to these reports, investigators feel D’Wan was never actually at the mall like his mother claimed he was.
Dwanna subsequently failed two lie detector tests about her son’s disappearance but she maintained her innocence and said she did not know anything of her son’s whereabouts. She continued to claim that D’Wan was likely abducted from the shopping mall like she reported when he first disappeared in 1994.
Beverly and Dwanna defended the story, however, and criticized police for merely searching for D’Wan’s body. Beverly told police her daughter was indeed at the mall on the day in question and Dwanna stated that D’Wan likely walked away from her since she gave him a lot of freedom as a child. She continued to say she believed her son is alive and would hopefully come home to her.
Beverly also stated that Dwanna gave her no reason to not believe the story of her son disappearing from the mall. The two believed that police were targeting Dwanna because they had no conclusive evidence of what truly happened to the child. Investigators also interviewed D’Wan’s biological father who said he believed Dwanna was a good mother to their son.
Besides the inconclusive statements from Dwanna and the general theory from the public that she was involved in her son’s disappearance, authorities continued to received leads about D’Wan that suggested he might be alive and well. One woman contacted police in late December of 1994 and claimed D’Wan was being held against his will by a family who lived in her neighborhood.
Police checked out the lead and determined it wasn’t truthful. The woman was ultimately charged with making a false police report about D’Wan’s disappearance. There were several other people who sent in false leads to law enforcement but jurisdictional issues prevented them from being charged with anything.
Investigators received over 1,000 tips about D’Wan’s disappearance following the extreme publicity that surrounded it. One particular lead occurred in November of 1995, almost a year after he went missing.
According to police, they along with several news organizations received an anonymous letter that allegedly detailed D’Wan’s supposed death and disposal. According to the letter, D’Wan had been r to make the boy “disappear.”
The letter states that D’Wan’s body was placed in a dumpster in the Detroit area on December 13th 1994, two days after his mother reported him missing. It also indicated that an earlier attempt had been made on D’Wan’s life but that “everyone got scared.” At this time, Dwanna was under medical care in a specialized unit for problem pregnancies.
The letter allegedly threatened her life in it by saying that “D’Wan’s mother is supposed to die next.” As a result, newspapers at the time did not name which hospital she was staying in, so that she could be protected. Despite the letters specific details regarding D’Wan’s alleged murder, it was never proven to be authentic and his body was never located to prove it.
In late February 1996, police received a possible sighting of D’Wan. According to the lead, D’Wan was living in Lansing, Michigan and was a student attending Grand River Elementary School. Investigators checked out the lead and visited the boy’s residence to determine if it was in fact D’Wan. While the boy closely resembles him, it was not D’Wan.
Following D’Wan’s disappearance, his mother married a man named Victor Jackson. On August 4th 1996, Dwanna argued with him after finding out he too his daughter from a previous marriage on a shopping trip and didn’t take their five month old daughter along. The fight became violent and Dwanna threatened Victor with one or two kitchen knives.
Dwanna was arrested and charged with domestic assault. She pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to pay the court $350 in legal costs and she had to continue going to counseling for domestic assault/abuse along with her husband. She faced a maximum sentence of 90 days in prison and a $500 for the misdemeanor charge.
In late July of 1999, detectives reopened the investigation into D’Wan’s disappearance and said they were close to identifying the perpetrator of his disappearance. They also indicated they had a prime suspect in his case but they refused to reveal whether it was his mother or someone else. They revealed they that initial investigation had many faults to it and planned on looking at the evidence collected during that time differently.
They also pointed out that other suspects and more analysis into D’Wan’s parents like creating psychological profiles were not done in the original 1994 investigation. The case has gone one ever since and no concrete information regarding D’Wan’s true fate has been uncovered.
Throughout the years, investigators have maintained they never believed Harris’s story about D’Wan being snatched at the mall but she always maintained her innocence and never changed her story about the mall disappearance. She moved to North Carolina after her son’s disappearance but continued to keep in contact with agencies involved in finding her son.
In December of 2019, a man came forward and claimed that he was D’Wan. The man apparently walked into the Livonia Police Department exactly 25 years to the day that D’Wan vanished and said he believed he was indeed the missing boy. He stated that his parents gave him conflicting accounts about his childhood.
Dwanna was notified of the development in her son’s disappearance. She cooperated fully and answered phone calls regarding the development. Dwanna, however, stated she was doubtful of him being her long lost child. She said the man couldn’t answer questions only her son would know. The man gave a DNA sample that would be compared to the samples submitted by both D’Wan’s mother and father.
Investigators were also skeptical of the man’s credibility. For one, he told them he didn’t want this to get out to the media but he posted about his identity suspicions on social media. He was taken seriously though and the testing would take nearly two years to complete.
Dwanna unfortunately contracted COVID-19 in 2020 and was hospitalized as a result of it. She was released from the hospital in late 2020 and passed away at her residence in Durham, North Carolina on December 7th 2020. She was never able to find out the results of the test.
In June of 2021, it was confirmed through DNA that the man was not D’Wan Sims. The man is named Mike Cash and he became convinced that he was the missing boy after a cousin told him that he really was D’Wan and that his mother never became pregnant. He stated he had known about the Sims case since 1999 when he saw D’Wan’s picture on the television.
Following Dwanna’s death, investigators announced that they believed she was definitely capable of being involved in her son’s disappearance. She was never arrested or charged criminally in relation to his case. The investigation has been at a standstill since.
There have been numerous tips regarding D’Wan’s whereabouts over the years since his 1994 disappearance and investigators as well as his remaining relatives have hope he is still alive. At the time of his disappearance, D’Wan was known to like watching television, specifically the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show. His disappearance remains unsolved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Livonia Police Department 313-421-1920