Missing Lateche Norris’ Mom Says She’s ‘Just as Important as Gabby Petito,’ as 20-Year-Old’s Disappearance Nears the One Month Mark

It is unclear if police in San Diego are investigating the young woman’s disappearance

An Indiana mother is begging for help in the desperate search for her 20-year-old daughter, who vanished in southern California last month.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, 20-year-old Lateche Norris had traveled from Indiana to San Diego on the first of November to visit her boyfriend Joey Smith, who had recently been released from rehab. She was last seen at a 7-Eleven in San Diego on November 4, and spoke to her mother on the phone the next day.

According to the New York Post, Norris called her mother Cheryl Walker on November 5 from an unknown person’s phone, and said she couldn’t find Smith. Apparently the couple — both aspiring tattoo artists — had gotten into a fight that day or the day before. It is unclear where Norris was staying, as Smith does not have a permanent residence and is believed to have been living on the streets.

The mother reportedly said that Norris had asked her mom for Smith’s number on November 5; a request that suggests Smith’s number was stored and not memorized on her own phone, which Norris apparently did not have. It is unclear why.

“I let her go so she could call him, and I say ‘You call me back! I love you,’ ” Walker told the New York Post. “The last words my daughter said were ‘I will, Momma, I promise. I love you more.’”

Norris’ disappearance comes two months after 20-year-old Gabby Petito was found dead at Bridger-Teton National Park in Wyoming. Petito had been traveling with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie when she vanished in August. Laundrie later died of an apparent suicide, after returning to his Florida home without Petito in September.

In a Facebook post, Walker compared her daughter’s disappearance to the high-profile case, the New York Post reports.

“My daughter is just as important as Gabby Petito,” Walker wrote. “As if what happened to that sweet girl wasn’t heartbreaking enough.”

Walker told the New York Post that her family had tried desperately to reach Smith, but that their calls and messages go unanswered. She also said she believes police are not doing enough.

The mother claimed police in San Diego said they “see this all the time” and that investigators don’t believe Norris is endangered.

“My daughter followed a troubled man out here that she loves, her spirit is a force to be reckoned with,” Walker told the newspaper.

“I don’t care what anybody says, my daughter agreeing to rough it for a few days upon arriving here, does not mean she planned on being homeless. I know her, I’m not blind, and I’m not naïve,” she said, adding that her daughter does not have any previous or current issues with addiction.

Police would not confirm to the New York Post whether they are investigating Norris’ disappearance.