When it comes to missing children and teenagers, there are a broad spectrum of factors that can play a role in their disappearances. Everything from home and family life to social and environmental risk factors are on the board, but the fact remains that despite the circumstances, all missing or runaway children are at risk of being trafficked once they leave the safety of their homes. Protecting against sex trafficking is a higher priority than ever for parents who know that their children will face risk around every corner.
Tips for Protecting Against Sex Trafficking
Protecting teenagers from sex trafficking is a critical concern, and it’s essential to educate both teenagers and their parents or guardians about the risks involved. Here are some steps you can take to help protect your teen from sex trafficking:
Open communication: Establish open and honest communication with your teenager. Create a safe space where they feel comfortable discussing their concerns and experiences. Encourage them to share any suspicious or uncomfortable encounters they may have had or witnessed.
Educate your teen: Teach your teen about the dangers of sex trafficking and the tactics traffickers use to lure victims. Explain the signs and red flags associated with potential trafficking situations. Make them aware of the importance of personal boundaries, consent, and healthy relationships.
Online safety: Help your teen understand the risks of online interactions. Educate them about the potential dangers of sharing personal information online and the importance of privacy settings on social media platforms. Encourage them to use strong passwords and avoid engaging in conversations with strangers online.
Monitor online activities: Keep an eye on your teen’s online activities without invading their privacy. Consider installing parental control software or using monitoring apps to track their internet usage, including social media platforms and messaging apps. Regularly review their friend lists and connections, looking out for any suspicious individuals.
Teach critical thinking: Help your teen develop critical thinking skills to evaluate the information they encounter online and offline. Teach them to question the credibility and intentions of sources, advertisements, and potential recruiters. Encourage them to think independently and make informed decisions.
Be involved in their life: Maintain a strong and supportive relationship with your teen. Show interest in their activities, hobbies, and friends. By staying involved, you are more likely to notice any changes in behavior, sudden secrecy, or signs of distress.
Set boundaries and guidelines: Establish clear boundaries and guidelines for your teen’s activities, both online and offline. Discuss the importance of curfews, knowing their whereabouts, and seeking your permission before going to unfamiliar places or attending events. Encourage them to inform you or a trusted adult if plans change.
Encourage a support network: Encourage your teen to develop relationships with trusted adults, such as teachers, mentors, or family friends. These individuals can provide guidance, support, and additional perspectives outside the immediate family.
Report suspicious activity: Teach your teen how to recognize and report suspicious behavior. Make sure they know the appropriate authorities to contact, such as local law enforcement or organizations dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Seek professional help: If you suspect that your teen may be at risk or has already been involved in sex trafficking, seek professional assistance immediately. Contact local law enforcement and specialized organizations that can provide guidance, resources, and support for victims and their families.
Remember, preventing sex trafficking requires ongoing education, open communication, and a supportive environment. By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce the risks for your teen and empower them to stay safe. If you have concerns your missing teen may be vulnerable to sex trafficking, contact our office to learn how our team of private investigators can give you peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your children.
The Amber Alert system is an integral part of today’s society, rapidly disseminating information about missing children and aiding in their safe recovery. Named after Amber Hagerman, a young girl who was tragically abducted and murdered in 1996, this system has saved countless lives since its inception. This article delves into the history of the Amber Alert system, its development, and its impact on child safety.
The Tragic Incident that Sparked Change
Amber Hagerman’s abduction and murder in Arlington, Texas, in 1996 was the catalyst for a nationwide effort to improve the way law enforcement agencies respond to child abductions. Her case garnered extensive media coverage, prompting community members and law enforcement officials to collaborate on finding effective ways to prevent such incidents in the future.
The Birth of the Amber Alert System
In response to Amber Hagerman’s tragic fate, the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers and local law enforcement agencies in Texas collaborated to create the Amber Alert system. They sought a way to quickly distribute information about abducted children to the public, hoping that rapid dissemination of this information could significantly increase the chances of a child’s safe recovery.
Amber Alert Criteria and Activation
The Amber Alert system follows specific criteria for activation, focusing on cases where law enforcement believes a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. These criteria typically include the belief that the child has been abducted, the child is under 18 years old, and there’s enough descriptive information about the child, the abductor, or the suspect’s vehicle to assist in their recovery.
Expansion and Implementation
The success of the Amber Alert system in Texas led to its adoption in other states and, eventually, on a national level. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the PROTECT Act, which authorized the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a national communications network for broadcasting Amber Alerts. This marked a significant milestone in the system’s evolution, allowing alerts to be rapidly disseminated across various media platforms, including television, radio, and digital billboards.
The rise of smartphones and social media platforms provided new avenues for reaching a wider audience in real time. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) became an integral part of the Amber Alert system, delivering geographically targeted alerts directly to people’s mobile devices, ensuring that information about missing children reached them regardless of their location.
Criticism and Improvements
While the Amber Alert system has been largely successful in recovering abducted children, there have been instances of false alerts, technical glitches, and criticisms of its effectiveness in some cases. However, these shortcomings have prompted ongoing improvements, including refining the criteria for activation and enhancing the accuracy of the information provided in alerts.
The success of the Amber Alert system inspired other countries to adopt similar systems to address child abductions. Many nations have developed their own alert systems. The Amber Alert system stands as a testament to the power of collaboration between law enforcement, media outlets, and the public in ensuring the safety and well-being of children. From its humble beginnings as a response to a tragic incident, the system has evolved into a nationwide and even global lifeline for missing children. While there may be challenges and improvements along the way, the Amber Alert system remains a vital tool in the ongoing effort to protect children from abduction and harm.
Update: John Castic was found deceased in a Brooklyn Creek on Tuesday, August 3, 2023. The New York Police Department pulled him from the creek during their search for him. The city’s medical examiner’s office has not yet released the cause of death. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon remarked in a statement that he would be greatly missed, “We are all shocked and saddened to learn of John’s tragic passing. John was a dedicated, driven member of our Controllers team working closely with our Asset and Wealth Management business. Our thoughts are with his mother Dawn, his father Jeff, and his entire family at this very difficult time.”
The news cycle for American finance has been uniquely impacted this week after a report was filed for a missing Goldman Sachs analyst, who mysteriously disappeared following the conclusion of a New York City concert early Saturday morning. According to police, John Castic, 27, was last seen outside the Brooklyn Mirage in the neighborhood of Williamsburg around 2:30 am last Saturday morning after an electronic music show. The missing person flyer being circulated with his information denotes he was wearing a navy and white button-down floral shirt.
Since his disappearance, friends and family of John Castic have expressed great concern over the circumstances leading up to the moment he vanished. One friend, Sara Kostecka, took to Facebook to plead for the public’s help in finding the missing Goldman Sachs analyst, “One of my best friends, John Castic, went missing after the Zeds Dead show Friday night in NY. Any information would be greatly appreciated, as well as sharing this to anyone in NYC that might have seen him…I’m supposed to walk with him in my brother’s wedding next week…we just want to find John.” In addition to her plea, Kostecka also mentioned that there were rumors swirling about individuals who had been propositioned by “creepy people” to get into unsolicited vehicles like a “taxi/cab” in the area surrounding the Broklyn Mirage. Another friend, Jonah Shales, told Folx News Digital that no one has had any contact with Castic since his phone died after he left the venue on Saturday. Representatives for Goldman Sachs have not yet responded to media requests for comment.
Castic’s disappearance was not the first in recent weeks to be associated with the Brooklyn Mirage, but has not seen the amount of media attention Castic’s has received. On June 11, earlier this year, another young man, Karl Clemente, was turned away from the venue when he was observed to have been drinking alcohol according to EDM Identity, an online publication covering the colorful world of electronic dance music. Tragically, following his disappearance from the vicinity of the venue, Clemente was found dead in a creek bed nearby a week later. Clemente, a 27-year-old psychologist, was observed on surveillance footage entering a lumber warehouse near the Brooklyn Mirage after being denied entry. Police have yet to release a cause of death or a timeline of events leading up to Clemente’s death, nor have they been able to provide an update on the case of John Castic.
Between 1980 and 2019, there were 185,000 unsolved homicides in the United States alone according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. That’s hundreds of thousands of families who have gone years, if not decades, without answers in their missing loved one’s case. With jurisdictions of all levels experiencing problems with both resources and labor, an independent eye on the case goes a long way to dislodging any roadblocks in case progression. That’s why many families of missing persons are turning to a private investigator for murder cases in order to finally bring about closure in disappearances.
Finding justice for loved ones
Police departments of all levels and in all states experience difficulties with case closure for a myriad of reasons, including but never limited to: budgetary issues, labor shortages, lack of resources, or lack of experience. Sometimes, it may just be a matter of homicide detectives handling too many cases at once for them to give any individual case the attention it needs. In other cases, when a lead takes a homicide detective outside of their jurisdiction, they may be unable to follow that lead. This is how homicide cases go cold.
This is why many families, whether it be months or decades without answers, have hired a private investigator for murder cases. In murder investigations conducted by private investigators, there is never any bureaucratic red tape involved when it comes to following leads. Private investigators are free to follow leads from state to state provided that they are licensed. This autonomy also affords the private investigator to handle only a few cases at a time, meaning that each case gets the attention it deserves.
When cold case detectives brush the dust off a long-stagnated case, they put fresh eyes to the case file. This can lead to new evidence being discovered, or a new lead to follow. The same principle is true of hiring a private investigator for murder cases. When private investigators review a cold case, they may notice significant details that previous investigators have missed, and finally dislodge any roadblocks in the case.
Hiring a private investigator for murder cases
When hiring a private investigator for murder investigations, it’s imperative that families look for private investigators who specialize in homicide investigations. In the same way that police detectives can have blind spots if they do not have experience in murder cases, so can private investigators. When vetting candidates, be sure to always inquire about the private investigator’s experience with homicide investigations and what their success rate has been with finding solutions in those cases.
If you need a private investigator for murder investigations, please consider Lauth Investigations International for your intelligence needs. We carry an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and are constantly receiving glowing testimonials from our grateful clients. Call 317-951-1100 for a free quote or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com for more information.
A more recent unsolved missing person case is that of Karlie Gusé. The night before she disappeared, Karlie Gusé was seen at a party with friends in a neighborhood not far from her home in Chalfant Valley, CA. She called her stepmother in a panic, saying she needed to be picked up from the party. Melissa Gusé picked Karlie up from the party, and later stated that she seemed disoriented and exhibited paranoid behavior. Once home, it took hours to get Karlie calmed down enough to sleep. When Melissa awoke the next morning, October 13, 2018, Karlie was asleep in bed, but when she checked on her a second time around 7AM, Karlie was nowhere to be found. Law enforcement canvassed the neighborhood and turned up two witnesses who said they saw Karlie walking towards Highway 6 with a piece of paper in her hand. All of Karlie’s belongings, including her cell phone, were found at her home. Karlie had been experiencing problems prior to disappearing. Her father and stepmother acknowledged Karlie’s history of experimenting with drugs and attending alternative education in order to improve her grades. Despite these factors, there appeared to be nothing that would have prompted Karlie to leave the house that morning. Investigators, both in law enforcement and independent firms continue to search for Karlie, while her father, stepmother, biological mother, and the rest of her family wait anxiously for Karlie to come home.
9. Teresa Butler
Teresa Butler’s husband came home on January 25, 2006 to find his wife gone, their two young children unsupervised. At the time, the family was living in Risco, Missouri. There were no signs of a struggle, nor forced entry, but there were a series of valuable items missing from the home such as a gaming console, camcorder, stereo, and Teresa’s cell phone and purse. Her car was still in the driveway, and her wedding bands were also at the residence. Investigators were stymied by this mixed bag of a scene. Was it a crime scene? Or had Teresa simply left of her own accord—and if so, for what reason? More whirlwind revelations came when investigators realized that Teresa’s cell phone made two calls after she had vanished. Both calls were to unfamiliar numbers, in two different Missouri towns. The owners of those numbers both claimed that they had no idea who Teresa was, and did not speak to her. Thirteen years later, there are still no answers in her disappearance.
8. Laureen Rahn
In 1980, Laureen Rahn was living with her mother in an apartment in Manchester, New Hampshire. She was last seen on April 26 at that apartment in the company of two friends. When her mother returned home that evening, she had to grope for the door because all of the lightbulbs in the hallway had been unscrewed. When she entered the apartment, she checked Laureen’s room, and she appeared to be asleep in her bed. The next morning, she realized the body she’d seen asleep in the bed was actually one of Laureen’s friends, and that friend was clueless as to Laureen’s whereabouts. Authorities treated Laureen’s case as a runaway, but details that emerged in October of that year cast a different light on the case. Her mother, Judith, noticed three calls to a California number on her phone bill that she knew she didn’t make. One was to a sexual assistance call line for teenagers, helmed by a doctor’s wife who took in runaways—could Laureen be with her? The second number was to a motel run by a child pornographer by the pseudonym “Dr. Z.” But unfortunately authorities were unable to connect the 14-year-old’s disappearance to either of these persons of interest. To this day, what became of Laureen Rahn remains a mystery.
7. Lauren Spierer
An unsolved missing person case that continues to haunt the true crime world is that of Lauren Spierer. The Lauren Spierer case is one of the most mysterious missing person cases. Many Hoosiers are familiar with the cautionary tale of Lauren Spierer, an Indiana University Student who disappeared on June 3, 2011 after a night out partying with friends in Bloomington, Indiana. After leaving her apartment around 2:30 in the morning, she walked around the corner and was never seen again. It wasn’t until her boyfriend, Jesse Wolf, realized that Lauren had been separated from her phone that something was wrong. When he sent her a text message two hours later, one of the employees at Kilroy’s bar responded. Wolf reported Lauren missing. Witnesses who had seen Lauren that night reported that she was highly intoxicated, which might explain why she left both her cell phone and shoes behind at Kilroy’s. Her observed level of inebriation has led to speculation that Lauren might have been drugged while at the bar, possibly with a drug like GHB, also known as “the date-rape drug.” Her family has remained suspicious of the men she was reportedly hanging out with that night, claiming that they know something about their daughter’s disappearance. That being said, investigators also spoke to friends of Lauren’s who informed them she was known to use drugs when she partied as well as alcohol. As of January 28, 2016—when FBI and other investigating bodies searched a property in Martinsville for signs of Lauren with no success—Lauren still remains missing.
6. Cynthia Anderson
The disappearance of Cynthia Anderson is regarded as
stranger than fiction. She vanished on August 4, 1981 from the law office where
she worked as a secretary. Her personal belongings were missing, but her
vehicle remained parked in the lot. While investigating her disappearance, authorities
discovered an open romance novel. In an eerie coincidence, Cynthia had stopped
reading during a scene in which the main character is abducted. Police were
already investigating Cynthia’s disappearance with the possibility of foul
play, but this gave them pause. Could she have faked her own abduction to
disappear and start over? There were anonymous tips months after her
disappearance that she was being held captive in the basement of a remote
residence, but authorities were unable to corroborate this statement. The wildest
theory about her whereabouts came when a lawyer from her firm was arrested for
drug trafficking. There was speculation that Cynthia might have known too much
about some illegal dealings going through the law firm, and met a violent end
as a consequence. But that’s all it is: a theory.
5. Maura Murray
An unsolved missing person case can get so big it invites a great deal of media attention. Mara Murray is perhaps one of the most famous mysterious missing person cases in recent history. The University of Massachusetts Amherst student disappeared on February 9, 2004. In the days leading up to her disappearance, Maura told university staff and her professors that she would be taking a week’s hiatus from school to handle a family emergency. Around 7:30 that night, a car crash on Route 112 was reported to 911. When first responders arrived, the driver, Maura, was nowhere to be found. During the investigation, law enforcement turned up a witness who had passed Maura following the crash. When asked if she needed help, she said no, that she had called roadside assistance. In a window of less than 15 minutes, something happened to Maura Murray. What’s most puzzling about Maura’s disappearance is that her story about a family emergency could not be corroborated by her family. So the question remains: Why was Maura taking a week off from her education? What could have been so important? Maura Murray’s disappearance is regarded as the first missing person case of the social media age, having disappeared the week that Facebook launched. Her story has spawned many true-crime specials, documentaries, and a highly popular podcast called Missing Maura Murray.
4. Asha Degree
Asha degree was just nine years old when she left her house
on the morning she disappeared, Valentine’s Day, 2000. Inexplicably, she had
packed her school backpack and left the house in the early morning hours, after
which she was sighed walking along North Carolina Highway 18, just a little
over a mile from her home. When approached by passing motorists who noticed
her, Asha reportedly ran into a wooded area just off the highway. At first, it
appeared to investigators that Asha had run away from home. After interviewing
family members, they learned that the child had bene reading a fantasy series
about children who have spectacular adventures while the adults are asleep.
While it’s unclear whether or not Asha intended to return home, early search
efforts for her proved fruitless. Belongings of hers, including a pencil,
marker, and Mickey Mouse hair bow were found near a shed behind a business that
sat parallel to the highway. About 18 months later, Asha’s bookbag also turned
up at a construction site, curiously double-bagged, leading investigators to
think someone other than Asha had left it there. In October 2018, investigators were appealing to
the public for information regarding two key pieces of evidence—a children’s
book that was borrowed from the Fallston Middle School library in 2000, and a
New Kids on the Block shirt. Asha Degree remains missing to this day.
3. Annette Sagers
Eight-year-old Annette Sagers went missing on her way to
school in October of 1988. Less than a year earlier, her mother, Korinna Lynne
Sagers Malinoski had gone missing. There was little evidence to paint a picture
for investigators, except that her car was found parked in front of their home.
When Korinna’s daughter went missing as well, they searched the bus stop where
she should have been picked up for school. Investigators found a cryptic note
that placed her mother’s disappearance in a whole new context: “Dad, momma come
back. Give the boys a hug.” Authorities weren’t sure what to make of the note
at first, as they suspected someone may have forced Annette to write. After
careful examination, handwriting experts did determine that Annette likely
wrote the note. This looks like Korinna could have disappeared of her own
accord a year prior, and had returned to reclaim her daughter before vanishing
again. What could not be explained was that Korinna had left behind two boys
when she disappeared in 1987. Despite anonymous tips that claimed burial locations
for Annette’s remains, the mystery of the missing mother and daughter remains
2. Tara Calico
The case of Tara Calico continues to haunt the true-crime world, with both investigators and armchair detectives alike speculate to the circumstances surrounding this bizarre case and its sensational clues. Like Annette Sagers, Tara Calico disappeared in 1988 after leaving her home in Belen New Mexico to being a bike ride along Highway 47. Tara was never seen again. In the search for Tara, pieces of her Walkman were found along Highway 47. The bike was never recovered. Leads in the case dried up and it went cold until a year later when a disturbing piece of evidence emerged that has become famous throughout the internet. In Port St. Joe, Florida, a woman reported that she had found a Polaroid outside in the parking lot of a local convenience store. The Poloaroid featured a boy and a young woman, both bound and gagged, propped up against pillows in what appears to be the cargo area of a panel van. The witness told authorities that a white van had previously been parked in that spot, driven by a white man with a mustache. There is still speculation to this day about whether or not the woman in the photo is actually Tara Calico. The book lying next to the young woman in the photo is V.C. Andrews’ My Sweet Audrina, which was allegedly one of Tara’s favorite books. While no official cause for Tara’s disappearance has ever been established, the sheriff of Valencia County offered his theory: He claimed that boys who knew Tara were involved in some kind of accident along Highway 47, involving Tara’s bicycle and the boys’ truck. However, without a body, law enforcement were unable to make a case.
1. Diane Augat
One of the oldest unsolved missing person cases is that of Diane Augat. In 1998, 30-year-old Diane Augat of Odessa, Florida walked out of her home and vanished without a trace. About ten years prior to her disappearance, Diane received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, a mental illness that causes massive mood swings between periods of intense emotional euphoria, or highs, and deep depressive lows. Her case was so severe that it led to losing custody of her children and her husband divorcing her in 1991. She self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. On April 10, 1998, Diane left her home and was never seen again. What followed was a series of strange events that amount to the plot of a Hollywood movie. Just three days after she vanished, her answering machine received a chilling message, “Help, help, let me out,” followed by “Hey, gimme that.” It sounded as though there was a struggle over the phone in the background. The caller ID said Starlight, but when Diane’s mother called back, there was no answer. Two days after that, the severed tip of Diane’s right middle finger was found. Two weeks later, in perhaps one of the most bizarre events in any missing person case, a bag of her clothing was found in the freezer of a local convenience store. Despite the details reflecting that of a Hollywood blockbuster thriller, there has never been any satisfying resolution in her case.