Chioma Gray: Where is the Runaway Now?

Image Credit: Chioma Tafoya/Facebook

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Disappeared: Too Young for Love’ delves deep into the case of 14-year-old Chioma Gray who disappeared in 2007 and started a fresh life with an older man in Mexico without informing anyone. Worried about Chioma, her loved ones involved the authorities who investigated her vanishing. But the search ended in 2011 as the family got all the answers they had been searching for all these years. The episode also features interviews with Chioma’s close ones, who share the impact her disappearance had, as well as the experts involved in the investigation.

Chioma Gray Ran Away to Mexico With Her Boyfriend

Born to Francine Black and Desmond Gray on April 27, 1992, Chioma Ezronesha Gray was seemingly raised under the roof of a loving and supportive family, accompanied by her two brothers Oluwa and Paul Gray, and a sister named Uchenna Okehi. Attending Buena High School in Ventura, Chioma had high ambitions for her future already. She had plans of becoming an Ob-Gyn and working with her sister, an aspiring pediatrician. When she was 14, Chioma started developing feelings for Andrew Joshua Tafoya, a 19-year-old boy who was an acquaintance of her brother Paul.

Chioma and Andrew began dating, despite the disapproval of the former’s family, especially her mother Francine. When Francine had enough of it, in March 2007, she went to the police and got Andrew arrested on charges of having unlawful sex with a minor. He was sentenced to seven months in prison but he could work during the day and stay locked up for the entirety of the night. After serving 147 days of a 210-day sentence, Andrew was out of prison but under the condition that he would not contact Chioma or any other minor without the presence of a reasonable adult.

But on December 13, 2007, after 15-year-old Chioma was dropped at her high school by her father and brother, she reportedly did not go to her class at all as she was picked up by Andrew. When her family couldn’t get in touch with her, they reported her missing to the authorities around 5:30 pm the same evening. As the detectives began investigating, they discovered that Andrew had just been released from prison the previous night and a 2008 white Acura was reported missing from a car lot in Ventura, where Andrew used to work as a car washer. Connecting the two dots, they looked at the security camera footage of Buena High School and it had captured a matching vehicle that had pulled up at the school.

Driving off to Mexico, Chioma and Andrew were pictured together while passing the Mexican border, revealing the license plate of the stolen vehicle. When the police suspected that Andrew was involved in the disappearance of Chioma, they put a warrant out for him and got the FBI involved as well. Over the next few years, there were many sightings of the runaway couple living in Mexico, but all the tips about it ended up being false or led to a dead end. There was some development in the investigation when a woman claimed to have seen Chioma working in a restaurant in Acapulco, Mexico, in August 2008. But when the police scoured the Acapulco area, they could not find any sign of Chioma or Andrew.

Chioma’s mother, Francine received an unexpected call from an old friend named Chuck Hookstra, a private investigator who was ready to work pro bono. As he dug deeper into the case, he confirmed that the couple had worked together — Andrew taught snorkeling while Chioma was employed as a waitress at a vacation spot. During his investigation, Chuck even traveled all the way to Acapulco and distributed flyers, which led him to a young woman who used to work with Chioma.

According to the woman, the teenage runaway seemed quite happy and in love with Andrew. That same woman claimed that Chioma had gotten pregnant, and the couple wished to have the baby in the States. When he reached out to the hospital in the area, there was no record of the couple. Enraged by the revelations, Francine sued Andrew and his parents, while planning to sue the Ventura County Probation Department for failing to inform Chioma and her family about Andrew’s release from prison.

Chioma Gray is a Married Woman and a Mother of Two Daughters

Still on the search for her daughter, Francine received a call from Andrew on September 1, 2011, who asked her to come to Mexico to pick up her long-lost daughter Chioma. But thinking that it was a set-up, she did not pursue the lead. Then, Andrew reached out to the FBI and agreed that he and Chioma would meet them at the Los Angeles International Airport on October 5, 2011. On that auspicious day, Chioma and her family reunited after four years of separation while Andrew was immediately taken into custody and charged with felony child stealing and felony probation violation.

Talking about the reunion with her daughter, Francine told VC Star, “It feels like she never left. She is so happy and content.” She revealed that Chioma was not aware of the efforts they had put to find her. She said, “She couldn’t believe it. It sort of made me feel like she was under the impression that we were not looking.” Much to the surprise of her family, Chioma revealed that she had gotten married to Andrew in Mexico. So, after spending two days of spending time with her family in their home, she moved out and moved in with Andrew’s family. A few months later, on January 23, 2012, Andrew Joshua Tafoya pleaded guilty to the charges and in turn, received a two-year imprisonment sentence.

After serving his sentence, Andrew was released from prison and got back to his life with his wife Chioma Gray as a free man. By January 2020, she had become a mother of two girls. On the professional front, she was an entrepreneur and a stay-at-home mother, serving as an inspiration to others. In December 2021, she became a full-time Postal Worker at the United States Postal Service before taking on the role of Health Enrollment Navigator at Gold Coast Health Plan in June 2023. In February 2024, the 31-year-old mother of two began her UGC journey. Still living in Ventura, California, with her husband Andrew, she expresses her gratitude on social media and motivates her followers at every opportunity she gets.

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