Portsmouth, Va. - Portsmouth Police detectives are asking for the public's help in locating a missing woman.
Detectives say 32-year-old Kathleen "Katie" Barham was last seen on Wednesday, May 27th around 10:30 p.m. when she went to wash a load of clothing in her apartment building in the 6500 block of Bickford Lane.
Family members have not seen nor heard from Katie since then, which they say is unusual.
Her boyfriend, Rich Fegan, says he found the clothes still warm in the dryer.
"I think someone took her. I know that she wouldn't leave," he says.
Since she disappeared, Fegan says he has called police numerous times, but a detective wasn't assigned to the case until Monday.
"I was asking them to track her phone because it was still on. They said they couldn't do that without a warrant and it was too much hassle is what the other officer said to me," he says.
The Portsmouth Police Department released a statement Tuesday afternoon discussing their delayed response:
"The Portsmouth Police Department is dedicated to the protection and security of all people and providing quality public safety services. As such, we investigate all missing person reports whether the person is an adult or child. Detectives assign investigative priority to these cases based on the known circumstances of each case, exercising particular care to cases where the missing person may be in danger, mentally or physically impaired, under a doctor's care, or on life-sustaining medication. The department is fully dedicated to assisting citizens with locating missing persons and attempt to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding each reported case, making contact with family members as soon as possible.
At this time, we are conducting an internal review to determine what caused a delay in assigning the missing person case of Kathleen Barham to a detective for follow-up investigation. Ms. Barham’s case is being investigated to the fullest extent possible to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding her disappearance. The department will ensure the family is completely aware of all our investigative efforts, and we are working assiduously to locate Kathleen “Katie” Barham."
Katie's cousin Lee Deans says she learned Katie was missing because Fegan didn't call her or her family until nine days after Katie disappeared.
"It left me sick. I am sick about it because I know the more time passes, the less likely we are going to recover her safely," she says.
So why did Fegan wait so long to tell them?
"I just didn't want to jump the gun and make everyone concerned for her before I was sure there was a problem," he says.
But now it is a problem and a mystery that family and friends are desperate to solve. They're taping posters and plastering Katie's face on social media in hopes someone can help bring her home.
"I think she was kidnapped. I think someone grabbed her, period. I mean, it's not unusual around here with what was going on around here a couple days ago with that lady in the Great Dismal Swamp," says Katie's friend Robert Poisal. "We just hope it doesn't end like that."
Katie Barham is a white female with hazel eyes and long brown hair. She stands approximately 5’2” tall and weighs between 135-140 pounds.
Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Kathleen Barham is asked to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.