Five-week-old Emmanuel was born at his grandmother's home in Dallas, Texas, but he spent seven days at Parkland Memorial Hospital after he was born. He was released from the hospital on August 11, 1989 and went to live with his mother Kisha Birts and his grandmother Hermane Grady in the 29th block of East Ledbetter Drive.
His abductor (who claimed to be a social worker and called herself Debra Manning) first visited the home on August 12, 1989, saying that she was making a follow-up home visit from the hospital. She told them Emmanuel had an eye infection (which was in fact true).
On September 12, 1989, Debra visited the family again and claimed there was a possibility that Emmanuel was infected with the HIV virus. Because Kisha had used drugs during her pregnancy, this was plausible.
On the evening of September 13, 1989, Debra visited again, with a letter she claimed was from the Child Welfare Department. The letter said Emmanuel needed to go to the hospital and get tested for HIV. She said she needed to take the baby immediately and Kisha wanted to come with them, but Debra made an excuse as to why she couldn't and said she'd come pick up Emmanuel for the test the next morning.
On the morning of September 14, 1989, Kisha went to Parkland Memorial Hospital to ask about Emmanuel's health. She left Emmanuel home with Hermane. When Debra first arrived, she claimed she had to get a car seat for Emmanuel and would be back in an hour. She did return and Hermane let her take him with her at 10:00 a.m.
Debra didn't take Emmanuel's eye medication with her. She promised to return by 2:00 p.m., but they never came back. Neither of them have ever been seen again. The family reported Emmanuel missing at 8:00 p.m.
The abductor is described as African-American, in her thirties, 5'6 tall and 145 pounds. Her hair appeared to be sandy brown, although it may have been a wig. She wore heavy blue eyeshadow and spoke with a foreign accent, possibly of African origin. She claimed to own a van, although none of Emmanuel's family members saw any vehicle.
The name "Debra Manning" was almost certainly an alias, although Hermane actually did know a welfare worker by that name. Child Protective Services hadn't authorized Emmanuel's removal from his home for any reason. The abductor always wore a white lab coat and surgical pants; real social workers wear street clothes. Investigators believe the abductor may have a history as a con artist, given the nature of Emmanuel's abduction. She apparently also had access to his medical information.
Both of Emmanuel's parents subsequently tested negative for HIV. They also took polygraph exams and neither of them are considered suspects in their son's abduction.
The woman who called herself Debra Manning has never been identified and there's been no sign of either her or Emmanuel since the day she took him away in 1989.
Emmanuel's case remains unsolved. He is described as of African-American descent with black hair & brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a red, white & blue checkered shirt, light blue shorts with red trim and red & white socks. He was being treated for an eye infection at the time of his abduction.