Years ago, as a private investigator I was fortunate to solve many missing persons cases, but the child abuse cases were most disturbing.
About nine years ago, son Jack and I were walking just a block from my apartment above the Majestic Theater in downtown San Antonio when a young teenage girl approached me.
With sincerity, she asked for some money because she needed bus fare to get back to Corpus Christi because a boyfriend beat her up the night before at the hotel they had been staying at.
Her plight and request seemed scripted. As I asked her questions about it, she became nervous, looked behind me and walked away. So we followed her without her knowing.
The next day I saw her near the bus station soliciting money from others. This confirmed my instinct so I reported to the downtown police bike station located on the first floor of my building.
On the third day, camera in hand, I took her photo and that of her “boyfriend,” a man who looked to be in his late 30s-early 40s. The police followed up and while there was no evidence of prostitution yet, the man was grooming her for it. He was arrested for an array of charges.
After posting an article about 150 missing children found in Tennessee in Jan-Feb. 2021, it prompted me to move forward with this article.
Pay special attention to any person, especially a child, who is…
- Unusually fearful, anxious, or submissive, or showing signs of physical abuse.
- Monitored, controlled, or guarded by someone else at all times, or who is prohibited from interacting with others.
- Unaware of what city they are in or unable to explain the purpose of their stay.
- Not in control of their own money or documents.
- A child in a suspicious circumstance, such as being alone at a hotel.
Additional Warning Signs
- Has injuries or other signs of abuse and is reluctant to explain them.
- Appears malnourished.
- Branded or marked with a tattoo, such as a man’s name, symbol of money, or a barcode.
- Dressed in a provocative manner or in the same clothes, regardless of weather or circumstance.
- Has very few personal possessions.
- Has an unexplained, sudden increase in money, clothing, or possessions like jewelry without explanation.
- Doesn’t carry identification.
- Has a number of hotel keys or key cards.
- Claims to be an adult, though their appearance suggests adolescence.
- Seems to move frequently from place to place.
- Talks about an older boyfriend or sex with an older man.
- Has inconsistencies in their story.
- Claims to be visiting, and can’t state what city they’re in or for how long.
- Isn’t able to speak for themself.
- Has sexually explicit profiles on social networking sites.
- Is not enrolled in school or is consistently absent.
- Seems to be withdrawn, depressed, or “checked out.”
LACK OF CONTROL
- Accompanied by someone who seems to control their every move.
- Seems scripted in the way they speak.
- Doesn’t have control over their own money.
- Can’t come and go from place to place on their own.
- Not in control of their identification or travel documents.