By Madison Scott
This is part one of an ongoing series that will uncover the stories behind Monroe County’s unsolved cases.
12 years of silence.12 years of questions. The family of Domonique Holley-Grisham has been haunted by deafening silence and a constant drumbeat of questions. They are just one of hundreds of families in Monroe County searching for their missing loved ones.
Domonique disappeared from his family home in Rochester in February of 2009. The 16-year-old was home with his youngest brother and his mother’s best friend when he received a phone call. After picking up the phone Domonique walked out of his house never to be seen again.
His mother Mozell Jones-Grisham was left with nothing but questions.
“I want to do everything to be his voice until we figure out where he is. I just need answers. You know, what happened to him, where was he going, who was he going to,” said Jones-Grisham.
She has spent the past 12 years fighting to get her son’s name and story out to the public. Jones-Grisham says that every single day, she hopes her questions will be answered.
“Domonique was funny, energetic-you know, an all-around normal 16-year-old. He was my second oldest out of six boys. He had that laugh that you know, was just unforgettable,” said Jones-Grisham. “I wonder what could’ve been done differently right when he went missing which has made me angry for many years but I really had to come within myself to know Domonique is my son and I have to fight to get his story out there,” said Jones-Grisham.
Domonique’s story began on February 12, 2009.
“He just turned 16 in January and he won a hockey game that day so we were going to have a party celebrating all of that into one,” said Jones-Grisham.
Jones-Grisham spent the day shopping for the party with her oldest son Jessie. She says she spoke with Domonique over the phone while he was at home not knowing this would be the last time she would ever hear from her son.
“That day my youngest son Antonio, my best friend Jeremy, and Domonique were at home while me and Jessie went out to get things for the party,” said Jones-Grisham. “And when I left, Domonique you know was making the CDs for the party because back then you made CDs off of the computer,” she added.
According to police accounts, while Domonique was at home prepping for his party he received a phone call and walked out of the door never to be seen again. No one knows who was on the other end of the phone. His mother said he was the type of person to drop anything if his friends needed him. And that’s what she believes happened. Someone needed him for something.
When Domonique didn’t come home that evening, his mother started to worry. She says she decided to call Rochester police and report her son missing.
“I called the police at nine o’clock that night,” said Jones-Grisham. “Before they came to the house the officers told me I had to wait 24 hours before I could file a report. My uncle was a sheriff for Monroe County at the time so he asked someone to come out and talk to us, which was at about 2 a.m.,” she said.
When officers came to her house they told her that he probably just ran away and would eventually come back.
“He had no reason to run away,” said Jones-Grisham. “He never ran away before, first of all, my kids are sneaker fanatics, he did not take any of his sneakers or nothing he just left with what he had on and that was it.”
Despite all of her efforts to try and convince the Rochester Police Department otherwise, Domonique was labeled as an “endangered runaway.” It wouldn’t be for another three years until he was labeled as a “missing person” and two years before any media covered his disappearance.
“Between 2009-2012 nothing was done and since then I have been working to keep his voice and his name in the media,” said Jones-Grisham. “I feel personally, a lot could’ve been resolved if the media would’ve put his story out there sooner which is why I wanted to become an advocate because you never know what to do when your loved one goes missing,” she said.
In 2012, Jones-Grisham along with other mothers of missing children in Monroe County created an organization called Missing and Missing to be advocates for missing people. An officer from the Rochester Police Department sat down with them at one of the meetings to hear their stories.
“They started investigating his case again in 2012 when we started the organization Missing and Missing. The police came in and talked with us but this one officer came in and was very compassionate. I guess some cases cops take seriously and some they don’t. Some cases get coverage some don’t,” said Jones-Grisham.
After police finally labeled Domonique as a missing person in 2012, Jones-Grisham still felt that her son’s case was treated differently by the media and police.
“When he [Lead Investigator John Brennan] came on the case I feel personally that he came in judgmental. The first time I met with him he had an old photo of Jessie my son’s father from when he got arrested for a speeding ticket or something like that. I asked him why he had that picture of Jessie when this was about Domonique. I took it as he was trying to figure out if all of my children have the same father which they do. I wasn’t comfortable with him,” said Jones-Grisham.
Jones-Grisham later decided to move to North Carolina with her family. Even from another state, she says she was continuously searching for any clues about her son’s disappearance.
“The day I moved to North Carolina I went to the police department to give him [Brennan] all of my updated information,” said Jones-Grisham. “When I got there, he was walking out of the door saying he was on his way to lunch and to email it to him. This was just such a slap in the face because I thought to myself ‘You really can’t take five minutes to sit and really talk with me?’ it was just so nonchalant,” she added.
Other than rumors and information from Domonique’s social media accounts about an argument he allegedly had with his girlfriend at the time, the police had very few solid leads.
“From what Investigator Brennan said, they got into an argument or altercation of somewhat over Facebook or Myspace and they were mad at each other, but I didn’t know anything about that,” said Jones-Grisham. “I had no idea about either of these accounts I wasn’t really into the social media scene until after Domonique went missing,” she added.
Though information on what happened to her son has been unreliable and hard to come by, Jones-Grisham is not ready to give up on her search for answers.
“On February 12, 2009, my son walked out of the door and I have never seen him since. Up to now, it’s just like ‘What if?’. I mean those are the questions I have. ‘What if? or ‘What would I do differently?’ Most importantly, who was he talking to on the phone?”, said Jones-Grisham. “Looking back, I wish I knew more of Domonique’s friends and who he was hanging out with, but you never really know something like this could happen”, she said.
Since moving to North Carolina, Jones-Grisham has started a foundation in her son’s name.
“I started the Domonique Holley-Grisham Foundation to help families with missing children with what to do,” said Jones-Grisham. “You know, to make flyers and stuff. I didn’t get a lot of feedback from the community, but I still have the foundation registered in North Carolina. I just wanted to give back to the community and help those in need. I am always looking for other ways to raise money for this foundation to help others and raise awareness,” she said.
Jones-Grisham hopes to raise enough money this year to donate food to families in her community.
Donations to the foundation can be made using Cashapp.
THE PERSON BEHIND THE POSTER…WHO WAS DOMONIQUE HOLLEY-GRISHAM
A son, brother, uncle, and friend, Domonique Holley-Grisham was all of these things and more. Those who knew him describe him as a great kid with a bright future. His mother says that he had dreams of playing football or having a career in the sports field.
Domonique’s family and investigators say they are not giving up on their search for answers.
If anyone has information about Domonique’s disappearance, they can contact Rochester Police at (585) 428-6595.