WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Shantika Lashae Dunlap was a 30-year-old mother of four. In about a week, her children – ages 6 to 13 – will be spending their first Christmas without their mother.
“This is gonna be the worst Christmas of my life,” said Shantika’s mother, Latonia Mayes, who calls her daughter by her nickname, Tika.
Dunlap was reported missing by her boyfriend on Thursday, according to police. Detectives say her boyfriend last saw her the day prior.
When Dunlap stopped answering her phone, her family knew something had happened to her.
“Whoever did this, they [are] a monster,” Mayes said.
On Saturday, Forsyth County deputies announced that a suspicious item was found in a dumpster behind a business in the 4800 block of Country Club Road. It was later determined to be Dunlap’s body.
“I don’t wish this on my worst enemy. It’s a nightmare. Just wondering, wondering, wondering,” Mayes said. “Where your child at? Where my child at?”
There are now two agencies looking into her death, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Winston-Salem Police Department, in a joint investigation.
“They could have did what they did and just put her out. Let her go,” Mayes added. “They didn’t have to take it this far.”
Sitting in her living room on Monday, Mayes flipped through a photo album containing pictures of her daughter, reflecting on past family functions while dreading the ones in the immediate future.
“Christmas will never be the same for me ever again,” she said. “But I gotta be strong, because I got four grandbabies to take care of.”
Dunlap’s children will be moving in with Mayes and their grandfather. Her oldest son will turn 14 on Wednesday.
“I’m gonna miss my baby. Her brother gonna miss her. Her aunties. Her children, we’re all gonna miss her,” Mayes said.
Investigators are referring to Dunlap’s case as a death investigation. Police say her autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. They do have a person of interest.
“She was a good girl,” Mayes said. “She was a good girl.”
There is a vigil set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cleveland Avenue Homes basketball court in memory of Dunlap.
A friend is also collecting gifts and clothing for her children at Ego Beauty Supply on Waughtown Street from noon to 3 p.m. until Saturday.