BUFFALO, N.Y. - In a faded picture, taken sometime in the late eighties or early nineties, you can see a snapshot of a happier time in the Cloud family. There they are: Claudia, Tynja and Alicia, the three Cloud sisters, sitting with their mother, Sonya, in what appears to be a traditional family picture. All of them are smiling.
They did not know it at the time, but the sisters would only have a few years left with their mother. In September of 1995, Sonya Renee Cloud Oliver disappeared.
Back then, the family had been living on Howard Street, a few miles east of downtown Buffalo. Tynja, the oldest, last remembers seeing her mother on their porch on September 8; by the morning of September 9, her mother was gone. Tynja was only 14 years old. Alicia, the middle child, was 13. Claudia, the youngest, was 11.
Twenty-two years have now passed.
The little girls from that faded family photo are now older than their mother was at the time.
"We went through so much," Alicia said. "People couldn't imagine."
The Buffalo Police Department's Cold Case Squad is still actively pursuing leads, according to a spokesperson, and the Cloud family confirms a detective has been in close contact with them over the past few years.
But they have no idea if their mother is dead or alive. They have theories, sure, but nothing has ever been confirmed. There has never been a reunion, nor has there ever been a funeral. The sisters don't even have a place to visit their mother-- no grave site, no headstone, no memorial.
"You got no closure," Claudia said. "I know everybody has been through things, been through stuff, and everybody has lost somebody. But it's different when you lost somebody, and you don't know where they are."
For the very first time, the Cloud sisters are telling their family's story. They have never been interviewed before, and the case has never received any media coverage. However, Sonya's case file was uploaded to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in January 2014, a sign that law enforcement are actively searching for links and connections in the investigation.
Sonya would be in her mid-50s at this point. Her daughters have remained inseparable, and all of them have moved on with their lives as best they can.
The early trauma of their mother's disappearance is inescapable, though. That feeling -- that uncertainty -- is always lingering.
"I was mad," Claudia said, "and being the youngest, it was just like, 'why did this have to happen to us?'"
All of the sisters believe in their hearts their mother could be alive. They hold out hope that one day, their own children can meet their grandmother.
They are ready for the reunion.
"I'd tell her, 'I love you,'" Tynja, "and we got a lot to catch up on."
Anyone with information on this case can call the Buffalo Police confidential tip line at 716-847-2255.
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