Where Is Adji?
How Did This Lovable Boy With Special Needs Go Missing Near Grandma’s House
Adji Desir went outside to play with the other kids while at grandma’s, only never to be seen again.
A protective Florida gated community is still reeling since the afternoon a disabled youngster endeared to their hearts mysteriously vanished without a trace more than a decade ago.
On Saturday, January 10, 2009, 6-year-old Adji’s mother, Marie Neida, left the youngster at his grandmother’s home in Farm Workers Village in the 800 block of Grace Street, in Immokalee, Florida, before heading off to her job as a nursing assistant at a retirement home. Later that day, at 5:15 p.m., Adji’s grandmother saw him off as he went outside to play with other children. Within 30 minutes of when she last saw her grandson, Adji’s grandmother realized he was nowhere in sight. Despite her and the family’s efforts in searching for him for about two hours, they failed to find him and called the police. Fortunately, in Adji’s case, the police took Adji’s disappearance seriously from the start — and still do today — and searched extensively for the boy. Unfortunately, these efforts did not lead to any trace of the boy being uncovered.
Adji Desir was born on October 15, 2002. He came from a hard-working family in the close-knit community of Immokalee, situated in the middle of the Florida Everglades. At the time, Adji was living with his mother, Marie, and stepfather. Meanwhile, his father, Antal Elant, and extended family lived in Haiti. In 2009, the year he vanished, although Adji was six years old, he had the mental functioning of someone four years younger. As a result of his disability, his community was extra mindful of him.
However, as Ajdi’s case tragically proved, even the love of one’s community can not always be enough to prevent a mystery from befalling it. In addition to his mental disability, Adji was non-verbal except for a few words in English. Adji could understand Haitian Creole though he could neither speak it nor his name despite knowing the latter. He could also nod and shake his head to respond with a “yes” or a “no.”
After failing to find a trace of his whereabouts, investigators next looked into the possibility that a relative had taken Adji to Haiti. However, the police ultimately found no evidence to corroborate this theory. As it stands, none of Adji’s family members are considered suspects in his disappearance. Instead, authorities believe that little Adji wandered away or had been taken by a stranger.
Adji’s case has baffled investigators for the last 13 years, six months and counting. How had no one noticed the vulnerable young boy they all knew and loved vanish into thin air? And from a gated community at that? Since her grandson’s disappearance, Adji’s grandmother moved away and was last reported to be sharing a home with Marie and her husband. Speaking of Marie, she and her husband have since welcomed a girl, whom they named after her lost big brother.
If Adji is still alive, he would currently be 19 years old. His family — mother, father, stepfather, two siblings, and extended family — are still searching and hoping he will come home. As mentioned earlier, Adji was six years of age when he went missing, with his mental functioning being that of a two-year-old. Adji is of Haitian descent with black hair and brown eyes. His nickname is Ji Ji. While he understood Haitian Creole, he was non-verbal except for sparse words in English. He was also afraid of strangers and known to hide when scared. Given his disability, it’s likely that Adji may not be able to articulate asking for help (at least in 2009). He was last seen wearing a blue t-shirt with thin yellow stripes, blue shorts with pink flamingos on the sides, and two-tone blue sneakers.
- Collier County Sheriff’s Office 239–793–9300.