At Lauth Missing Person Investigations, we specialize in complex missing person investigations of endangered missing children and adults.
The investigative team at Lauth Investigations has over 40 years combined experience working closely with the families of missing persons, local, state and federal law enforcement, along with national media and missing persons organizations throughout the country and internationally.
Founded in 1995, Thomas Lauth is a nationally recognized Missing Persons and Human Trafficking Investigator and graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, who initially served as Senior Criminal Investigator for Marion County Public Defender Agency located in Indiana.
Lauth has served as both a prosecution and defense witness on numerous missing persons and homicides at the federal and state levels, including being appointed by state and federal courts to conduct independent investigations of homicides, robberies, and other serious felony matters.
In addition, Thomas has attended various U.S. Department of Justice conferences on missing persons, human trafficking, and child abduction. He served as a volunteer Advisor to the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and the National Center for Missing Adults for nearly twenty years.
In addition to working with local and state law enforcement, Lauth has worked cooperatively with Interpol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. State Department, the U.S. Consulate and various foreign embassies.
Lauth is considered an expert in missing persons by national media and has appeared in publications like Essence Magazine, USA Today, Los Angeles Daily News, San Diego Tribune, New York Times and more.
According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as of May 31, 2018, there were 87,608 active missing person cases in the United States.
Missing persons are entered into various categories such as Juvenile, Endangered, Involuntary or Non-family Abductions, Disability, Catastrophe and Other. Though it is not mandated for law enforcement to enter missing persons into NCIC, it is beneficial to both the missing person and the private investigation. Lauth Investigations verifies all missing persons investigated are entered into NCIC making the missing person’s information available to all law enforcement throughout the country to include, medical examiners and Coroners.
By creating more public awareness, it increases the potential for generating leads. Lauth is one of the few private investigators in the country who works every day in locating missing persons, focusing on creating a collaborative effort between various victim assistance organizations, media, and law enforcement to create a successful public awareness campaign.
Lauth Investigations success rate is averaged at approximately 85% over 20 years working with families of missing persons. Every case is unique based on the circumstances of the disappearance and discovery based upon the private investigator’s fact-finding.
When hired, Lauth exclusively focuses on the specific missing person case, ensuring full attention is given to each case. Lauth is experienced in searching for missing persons between the ages of approximately 12-years old to seniors.
Circumstances of disappearances include at-risk children, teens, at-risk adults missing due to foul play, human trafficking, custodial and non-custodial abduction, (including Hague and non-compliant Hague countries), homeless, and those suffering from disabilities such as mental illness or missing persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Following are a few excerpts from letters Thomas Lauth has received throughout the years:
Mr. Lauth’s credentials indicate he has a high success rate of locating individuals and we have also found this to be true. He not only utilizes various resources to help locate individuals, but he frequently follows up with them after they are located to see how they are transitioning.
We will continue to utilize Thomas Lauth’s services in the future. His assistance with this organization and the many families of missing person we refer him to give hope to the possibility these families will once again be able to hold their loved ones in their arms. We highly recommend the services he provides to the families of missing persons.
Erin Bruno, National Center for Missing Adults
At a highly emotional time, I found the contact with Mr. Lauth to be quite reassuring. His experience in investigations of missing persons is quite impressive and without pressure, he outlined the stages of his proposed investigation costs and projected number of days to successfully locate my son.
As Tom predicted, my son was located a day later and was brought to the hospital in very bad shape. I am convinced without his intervention, my son was at extreme risk of death, or trafficked to other major cities around the world.
I am honored to provide a letter of reference for this remarkable man who is such a strong advocate for missing persons. My experience is such that I do not recommend relying solely on a local police department to locate a missing person, particularly with mental illness. The risk of exploitation or other harm is simply too great and hiring an experienced private investigator is more likely to bring a loved one home again.
Liz Mallin, mother of Brandon
Thomas Lauth, an investigator who specializes in missing children and adults, has been one of the most reliable and imaginative investigators we have found to date. Mr. Lauth’s experience with our organization, as well as the work he has done for the National Center for Missing Adults, has proven to be invaluable in the locating of abductors and bringing missing children and adults home.
Mr. Lauth’s impressive list of successes as well as his passion for the “left behind parent” makes him more than qualified to work in the area of child abduction. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Lauth to any parent who has lost a child. I personally feel that it is Mr. Lauth’s feelings for the children that separate him from so many other investigators.
David Thelen, CEO of Committee for Missing Children, Inc.
I wanted to take this opportunity to formally commend and recommend the services provided by Thomas Lauth at Lauth Investigations. My family and I recently worked with Thomas regarding my sister and nephew who had been missing for almost two years.
Tom was the second investigator that worked the case. Based on the excellent service we experienced, I sincerely regret that we did not work with him initially.
I found Thomas to be extremely knowledgeable, professional and emphatic. I immediately felt comfortable confiding in him. In response, Thomas offered a complete plan, with accurate cost disclosures and regular substantive updates.
Most importantly, Thomas did exactly what he promised to do, on time and within the estimated budget we initially discussed. Thanks to his efforts, we were able to speak with both missing parties for the first time since 2003.
Tom is an absolute gem. I strongly recommend him to anyone who may find him or herself in the unfortunate circumstance of losing contact with a loved one.
Andrea D. Townsend, Attorney at Law
Recently, my son was missing, and we had nowhere to turn until we found you. He had taken off for work and never got there. No one knew where he was, and police couldn’t help because he was of age.
If any parent is in our situation, I highly recommend they call you. You were so helpful and kind to us. You understood just how worried we were.
You met my husband in Massachusetts, where we finally figured out where he was. You stayed there until he was found and let us contact him. Your kindness and professional manner were of great comfort to us in our time of need. It is so hard not knowing where your child is. Anyone going through these hard times needs to know there is an organization out there that cares and handles the problem for you.
You don’t know what you gave back to us. My son means the world to me and getting him back made my world complete again.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope that anyone else missing a child will call you. You are the best!
Donna Post, mother of a formerly missing son
Millions of people are visiting our beautiful national parks each year. They travel from one side of the continent to the other to see the breathtaking tall Sequoia trees on the west coast to the pristine beaches of South Carolina on the east coast.
Attendance numbers at national parks have set record highs in the last few years. According to Los Angeles Times, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Sequoia and Yosemite national parks reported setting attendance records during 2016, with all parks reporting a 330.97 million people visiting our recreational parks – and hundreds, maybe thousands, of those people are now missing.
Shoshone National Forest: Amy Wroe Bechtel
It was 21-years ago, on the afternoon of July 24, 1997, Amy Wroe Bechtel, 24, began her run outside of Lander, Wyoming, training for the 2000 Olympic Marathon she had hoped to qualify for. She never returned.
Wyoming is called “America’s biggest small town” and Lander is an outdoor enthusiast hub, where climbers gravitate to the unique geological formations in Sinks Canyon within the Shoshone National Forest.
Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming is a climber’s paradise.
Sinks Canyon is part of a magnificent ecosystem stretching from sagebrush and juniper covered foothills, through conifer forests, aspen meadows to the alpine habitat in mid-central Wyoming.
Amy vanished while running along Loop Road, a route that includes Sinks Canyon Road and runs the Popo Agie River approximately 15 miles south of Lander. Her car was found by her neighbors, Todd Skinner and Amy Whisler, parked at Burnt Gulch where Amy was marking her 10K hill climb she was planning for the fall. When Amy had not returned by evening, her neighbors got into their car and headed for the gravel road of switchbacks ascending to Loop Road. At approximately 1:00 a.m., they find Amy’s white Toyota Tercel wagon parked on the side of the road where Loop Road splits to the pine-shrouded Burnt Gulch turnoff.
The weather during July is mild with days averaging 85 degrees and evenings about 54 degrees. There had been rain in the afternoon. Puddles of water surrounded the vehicle. Todd and Amy look for footprints or tire tracks but see nothing. Only Amy’s sunglasses, her keys in the driver’s seat and a to-do list were found in the car. Her green “Eagle” wallet was missing. Panicked, Todd calls Amy’s husband Steve Bechtel.
The search for Amy began early the following morning with her husband Steve and about a dozen of his friends. By day’s end, dogs, dirt bikes, ATVs, and over 100 volunteers had joined the search. The following day, horses and helicopters began searching the rugged terrain. By the third day, police expanded the search to a 30-mile radius.
As with most missing person cases, or missing wives, police turn toward the husband. In this case, Steve Bechtel. A move that, 20 years later, appears totally unwarranted and limited the search with tunnel vision, the enemy of any investigation.
Amy and Steve both graduated from the University of Wyoming with degrees in exercise physiology. They had been married a little over a year.
Steve was a climber. He and Amy both worked at Wild Iris, the local climbing shop. Amy taught a youth weightlifting class at Wind River Fitness Center and worked part-time at the Sweetwater Grill.
By all appearances, Amy and Steve were the bubbly, happy newlyweds and had just bought their first home in Lander, with a population of 7,000.
Police searched Steve’s journals and acquaintances gave conflicting statements about their relationship. Some described them as idyllic, while others stated Steve was often jealous and belittling.
The FBI would make accusations Steve killed his wife. A claim current detectives disagree.
Steve had an alibi backed up by a fellow climber. At the time, he had been about 75 miles from his home in Lander. He met with his friend Sam Lightner and Bechtel’s yellow lab Jonz and rode north to Cartridge Creek area of Shoshone National Forest to scout for a climbing location.
According to a Runner’s World article, “Long Gone Girl,” Fremont County Sheriff’s cold case detective Sergeant John Zerga disagrees with the way the case was handled in 1997. “Nowadays everything is viewed as a homicide. Back then it wasn’t viewed that way. She was just a missing runner. For three days,” Zerga said. “We didn’t close off any routes out of here,” Zerga continues. “We didn’t close off any vehicles. All we had was a bunch of people up here looking for a missing runner. We actually ruined the investigation with the vehicle because we allowed the Skinners to drive it home. [The investigation] was not good for at least the first three days. There was a lot of stuff lost.”
While all eyes had been on Steve, it wouldn’t be until over a decade later when the brother of Dale Wayne Eaton, 57, would talk to police. He had tried to contact law enforcement earlier but no response.
“I think our detectives who were working the case were so adamant it was Steve, they weren’t looking in other directions.” said Sergeant Zerga. Fifteen years after Amy vanished, Zerga spoke to Eaton’s brother who told him Eaton would often camp in the area Amy had vanished. “Few camped in the area, and few outside of Lander even knew about the area” Zerga added. “If we could prove Dale was in the area, that puts him as the number one lead.”
Eaton had tried to abduct a family pulled over with car trouble. After his arrest for the attempted kidnapping, he escaped and was later found by authorities in the Shoshone National Forest. He was incarcerated and required to submit a DNA sample.
In 1988 Lisa Marie Kimmel vanished on a trip from Colorado to Billings, Montana. Fourteen years later DNA would be linked to Eaton. An autopsy would determine Kimmel had been beaten, bound and raped for at least six days, then taken to the Old Government Bridge where she was hit on the head with a blunt object, stabbed six times in the chest and abdomen, then thrown into the river.
Police searched Eaton’s property about one hour away from where Kimmel was last seen alive. They excavated a spot on the property and unearthed Kimmel’s Honda CRX bearing her license plate “LIL MISS.”
Eaton was sentenced to death on March 20, 2004, for Kimmel’s kidnapping, rape, and murder. As for Amy, Eaton had remained tight-lipped but as with everything, justice has a way of coming around.
Anyone with information should call the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at 307-332-5611.
Coconino National Forest: David Barclay Miller
The Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness is a collection of buttes, cliff, and canyons known as one of the most magnificent places on the planet. The red rock cliffs of the Mogollon Rim mark the edge of the Colorado Plateau in the Coconino National Forest. Sycamore Canyon Wilderness borders on the east, the high mesas of Secret Mountain and Wilson Mountain jut out into lower canyons as deep as 1,500 feet draining out into Oak Creek and the Verde River.
Sedona Red Rocks is one of the most popular traveler’s destinations in the world.
Red is the predominant hue in the 43,950 acres. It is a 360-degree view of wind and water sculpted pinnacles, arches, windows and slot canyons. It is a place where sound bounces back and forth, almost in a musical chorus.
Trails crisscross the area taking one from the deepest gorges to protuberant panoramas overlooking the beauty. There is rock art on the walls from the area’s early inhabitants, along with abandoned dwellings high in the canyon walls.
The area draws hikers, photographers, backpackers, and horseback riders from around the world to wander among the manzanitas and red rocks.
An experienced hiker, David Miller, 22, was last seen at the Beaver Creek Ranger Station preparing to leave on a two-day hike on May 19, 1998, in the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wilderness area.
At the time of his disappearance, David was employed by the Sedona Forest Service. The weather would have been mild with days reaching 83 degrees and nights about 51 degrees.
David was last seen wearing a T-shirt, black hiking boots, and carrying a forest green Gregory backpack.
It is thought David may have fallen on slippery terrain or became lost. Anyone with information should call Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at 520-771-3260.
Salmon-Challis National Forest: DeOrr Kunz
It has been nearly two years since 2-year old DeOrr Kunz vanished on July 10, 2015, while on a camping trip at the Timber Creek Campground in the beautiful mountains of Idaho.
DeOrr’s father, Vernal DeOrr Kunz, mother Jessica Mitchell and grandfather Robert Walton, along with Isaac Reinwand, Walton’s friend and fishing buddy, had set up camp in the remote wilderness of the Salmon-Challis National forest.
The Salmon-Challis National Forest contains over 4.3 million acres in east-central Idaho. The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area takes up 1.3 million acres, the largest contiguous wilderness area in the Continental United States.
Salmon-Challis National Park is not only breathtaking, it is a rugged and remote area in the state of Idaho.
The area is remote, rugged and draws those seeking adventure, solitude and breathtaking scenery. The scenic Salmon River area is popular for fishing, hunting, and white-water rafting.
The winter weather in Salmon-Challis can be brutal, but in July averages 85 degrees during the day and 52 overnight.
The day of DeOrr’s disappearance, Kunz and Mitchell said they took their son to the general store for snacks and supplies. Upon their return, they walked down an embankment to scout a place to fish. Within minutes, they found minnows and quickly turned back to get DeOrr so he could see them and found he was not in his chair and was not with his grandfather. There has been about a 7 to 10-minute gap where DeOrr was not supervised. Panicked, they searched the surrounding campsite and could not find the little boy. They called the police.
Within three hours, authorities from the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office quickly responded and began swarming a two-mile radius with search and rescue crews using ATVs to search the landscape and divers scouring the nearby reservoir.
For two-days, approximately two hundred volunteers responded, searching the wilderness for a tiny toddler to no avail.
“At this point, I have kind of accepted I might not see him, I might not bring him home like I want to,” Mitchell said. “Any answers are better than what we have now.”
Two years later, there is little else to go on. In a KTVB interview, Mitchell says she believes her son is still alive but admits she is losing hope.
Impossible to move on without answers, Mitchell and her husband are named suspects in the disappearance of their son by former Lemhi County sheriff, Lynn Bowerman. A common response for law enforcement is to look closely at all family members. They both maintain their innocence. No arrests or charges have ever been filed.
There is no evidence DeOrr was attacked by an animal. Investigators remain baffled.
Mitchell and her family believe someone abducted DeOrr. She has returned to the campground several times to search but to her frustration has not found anything. “Every time I leave there, and there is still nothing, it just goes back to I think someone has him,” Mitchell said.
Trina Clegg, Mitchell’s mother has spearheaded the search for little DeOrr handing out business cards and flyers with age-progression photos of what DeOrr would look like today.
“In my opinion, he could be anywhere,” Clegg said. “We just want you to care about baby DeOrr. We want you at night to say your prayers for baby DeOrr. We want you to wake up in the morning and hope he’s there,” she added.
Anyone with information about DeOrr’s disappearance should contact Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office at 208-756-8980.
Rio Grande National Forest: Joe Keller
Joseph Keller, 19, was an adventurous young man from Cleveland, Tennessee. He was spending his summer with friends Collin Gwaltney and Christian Fetzner exploring the west between his freshman and sophomore years at Cleveland State Community College. They had visited San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon on their way to Joe’s aunt and uncles dude ranch, The Rainbow Trout Ranch, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Rated as one of the top fly-fishing ranches in the country, it is based in southwestern Colorado, with private angling along the Conejos River, a tributary to the Rio Grande flowing right through the property.
Rainbow Trout Ranch is nestled in the San Juan Mountains with the Rio Grande running through the property.
The young men were in for a treat visiting a place that combines the splendor of the Rocky Mountains with the enchantment of New Mexico.
About four hours south of Denver, the Rio Grande National Forest surrounds the ranch with 1.83 million acres and is considered a jewel of Colorado. The Continental Divide runs 236 miles along most of the forest and the tops of the Sangre de Christo Mountains form the eastern border. In between, sits the spectacular San Luis Valley which is a large agricultural alpine valley. This majestic sprawling land is the last place you want to get lost.
Joe was a competitive runner and obstacle course racer. His friend Collin, a varsity cross-country runner. They had been spending time running together during their travels.
Neither was used to the high elevations, the ranch sitting at approximately 9,000 feet.
It was July 23, 2015, they had planned an hourlong run along Forest Road 250 that crosses the ranch into the national forest, following the Conejos River upstream.
Joe left shirtless, wearing only red running shorts, blue trail shoes, and his Ironman watch. At 4:30 p.m., the friends started out together, but Joe soon fell behind as he was the slower runner.
Collin’s GPS watch shows him turning off Forest Road 250 onto the ranch drive that snakes up behind the lodge. The run became a scramble, so Collin headed back toward the road and upstream. A fly-fisherman spotted Collin about 2.5 miles up the road but never saw Joe. Collin finished his run and began puking due to the high altitude.
Joe never returned.
When Joe didn’t show up for dinner, Collin and Christian drove up the road honking, while ranch hands and guests hiked up the rocks toward a mountain formation called “Faith” towering above the valley. By 9:30 p.m., there were 35 people out searching for Joe.
Sheriff Howard Galvez of the Conejos County Sheriff Department, along with two deputies, arrived about midnight and began assisting the other searchers.
Joe’s parents were notified, leaving their home in Tennessee, along with their 17-year old daughter to travel to the ranch; they were there in less than 24 hours. It was now Joe’s birthday.
Search efforts were upgraded with about 200 people on foot, horseback and ATVs and about 15 canines. The family posted a $10,000 reward for information. Dressed only in shorts, Joe was not prepared for the evenings in the San Juan Mountains, where it is about 62 degrees during the day, down to only 30 degrees at night.
Helicopters and even an infrared-equipped plane was used to search for Joe.
The response to Joe’s disappearance was swift, the resources used in the search for Joe are unmatched by most searches for missing persons, but after a week most volunteers had gone home and after 13 days, the official search stopped. The family left with questions and desperation.
Following is a roller-coaster of emotions, anger, and theories.
May 2016, the search resumed with approximately 30 volunteers, drones and 11 dogs from Colorado Forensic Canines. The search was organized by the Jon Francis Foundation, a Minnesota nonprofit specializing in wilderness search and support. Still no sign of Joe.
An Outside Online article, “How 1,600 People Went Missing from Our Public Lands Without a Trace,” talked to Neal Keller, Joe’s father. “For a lost person, the response is limited to five days on average. There needs to be a plan for applying resources for a little bit longer.”
The Keller family hired two private investigators whose efforts were fruitless.
Nearly a year later, Neal Keller was traveling back and forth from Tennessee to Conejos County, searching for his son every minute he could.
On July 6th, John Reinstra, 54, a former offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, an endurance runner and search and rescue hobbyist, located Joe’s body in a boulder field below a cliff. His body 1.7 miles northwest of the ranch.
Rio Grande and Rainbow Trout area of Colorado. Courtesy Jon Billman Outside Online.
Soon after Joe’s disappearance, Gwaltney told Tennessee’s WTVC-TV , “We went running on a forestry road that was pretty well maintained,” he said. “It was gravel and pretty flat, with a few curves. But if you ran off the road, there were pretty steep places.”
Joe is found, and his family now has answers. He is no longer a missing person in a gray area of estimates with limited resources and minimal government attention.
Extensive searches failed to find him 1.7 miles away. The initial search didn’t last long enough.
Government doesn’t keep track of missing on federal land
Experts believe the public would be concerned and alarmed if they knew how many people simply vanish, never to be seen again, while visiting national parks.
According to the FBI National Crime Information Center, there are currently 86,190 active missing person cases in the United States.
The federal government does not track the number of missing persons in national parks, but experts believe about 1,600 individuals mysteriously vanish each year while visiting parks throughout the United States. While many reported missing are found, it is estimated hundreds remain missing.
Many are found, but many are never to be seen again, leaving families suffering the trauma of ambiguous loss – not knowing. Families who have experienced this say knowing your loved one is dead is easier than the “not knowing” what happened.
What Happened to Jasmine Moody?
Jasmine Moody, 22, vanished on December 4, 2014, during a visit to Detroit, Michigan
In late November 2014, Jasmine Moody, a Texas Woman’s University honor roll student, went to visit a friend in Detroit, Michigan. She disappeared, December 4, 2014, at approximately 7:30 p.m. leaving her friend’s home, around the 3700 block of Baldwin. This location is situated in the Van Dyke and Mack area of Detroit. Her disappearance has baffled police and her family is convinced foul play is involved.
Moody was scheduled to return home to Texas on December 5, 2014
According to a Detroit Fox 2 report, “Mystery of what happened to Jasmine Moody continues 1 year later,” private investigator Scott Lewis said, “It was a December night, it was cold outside, 7:30 at night.” Lewis was hired by Moody’s family in a desperate search to find her. “Jasmine left the home with no tablet, no telephone, no money, no credit card, dressed in a sweatshirt. And she’s never been seen again,” Lewis added.
Moody was wearing a white hoodie with a burgundy “University of Texas” logo on the front and blue jeans.
“I thought she went for a walk. I went for a walk to grab a cigarette and came back, but Jasmine didn’t,” her friend Brittany Gurley told Detroit News. “I don’t know anything. I went searching myself and came up with literally nothing,” she said.
During mid-2014, while living in Texas, Jasmine had pursued an Internet relationship with Brittany Gurley who lived in Detroit. She decided to travel to Gurley to spend the Thanksgiving holiday, arriving on November 25th. She had visited Gurley at her east side residence in Detroit several times before.
The girls had met on Twitter and had a romantic relationship for approximately two years.
Moody was scheduled to return to Texas December 5th. Gurley stated, “She and Moody got into a fight over a Facebook post.” She continues on claiming Moody “stormed” out of the house. Gurley went out for a cigarette and when she returned several minutes later, Moody was gone. The following day, Moody’s mother Fa’Lisa Nichols desperately tried calling Moody but there was no answer. The calls became more frantic as Nichols talked to her daughter every day on the phone.
Moody’s mother did not know her daughter was missing until a week later because Gurley and her family never called her to inform her of the incident. Nichols believes Gurley knows more than she has told police.
In November 2015, Moody’s mother along with Moody’s stepfather Patrick Kidd went to Detroit and joined volunteers who searched a mile radius around the location where Moody was last seen, hoping someone would come forward with information.
“It’s been a year,” said Kidd, Jasmine’s stepfather, “I haven’t heard her voice. I don’t know if she is alive or if she is dead.”
Moody’s parents have gone to Detroit several times to search for their daughter. Photo courtesy of Detroit News 7.
Morton is not alone in her assumption Gurley is hiding information about Moody’s disappearance.When Fox 2 Detroit News asked a volunteer, Chelsea Morton, if they felt Gurley had something do to with Moody’s disappearance she responded, “Of course. How could she just walk out in the cold? No shoes, no phone, no nothing.”
“Someone knows,” said Malik Shabazz, a community activist. “I believe the people in that house right there,” as he pointed to Britney Gurley’s family’s home.
Family wants another investigation
Moody’s family petitioned Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Change.org “I Want Michigan State Police to Investigate More on Britney and her family,” demanding police conduct a full and complete investigation and interrogation of Britney.
Moody is described as a stable young lady by her parents. During an interview with Tamara Thompson of “Real Talk with Tamara,” Nichol’s was asked if she felt her daughter’s disappearance is suspicious. “I do, I do. I do feel it was suspicious. If she was the type who ran away or disappeared from time to time, I might not be as worried as I am right now. But that doesn’t describe her at all . . . so, with that being said, it is suspicious,” said Nichols.
Nichol’s and her daughter spoke every day on the phone. “This is just not right. I know something is just not right,” Nichol’s said.
Days pass, months, now years – for a mother desperate to know what happened to her daughter.
Moody’s phone, laptop and everything she had with her was found at the home of Gurley. “Jasmine would go nowhere without her phone,” said Nichols.
Her mother had discouraged her from traveling to Detroit telling her daughter she had a bad feeling. Moody responded, “Mom, you are so dramatic!”According to family, Moody knew no one else in Detroit and would have felt uncomfortable alone; therefore, she would not have left on foot.
It has now been three years without hearing her daughter’s voice. “It just hurts me to know somewhere out there knows something and people can be so cruel and sleep at night and know someone is hurting over their loved one,” said Nichols, “I know something has happened to her.”
Gurley’s friends and her family have not cooperated with police according to Nichols. In fact, when Nichols called and spoke to Gurley’s mother to ask what happened with her daughter the night Moody disappeared, Nichols believes their stories sounded rehearsed.
“Somebody did something. Her mother knows something,” said Nichols. “This has gone on way too long.”
Nichols describes a very close relationship with her daughter and having a very disturbing experience the night Moody vanished. While sleeping, the night of December 4th, Nichols suddenly awoke and heard her daughter’s voice say, “Help me, Momma.” The following day she couldn’t dismiss the feeling and arrived at work with tears in her eyes. She called her daughter’s phone. No answer.
Nichols describes that day beginning a 3 year nightmare and turning her entire life upside down.
Nichols claims, “In the beginning, the detectives from the Detroit Police Department did not stay in touch regarding the case. No updates, no return calls and they had not even entered Moody’s information into the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC) correctly. Since then, a new detective was assigned who calls to check in and has been very responsive making each passing day “not knowing” a little easier.
Where is the attention?
A young black woman goes missing. Where is the national media attention? Moody’s disappearance generated some local media attention initially; however, no mention on national news.
Families of African American Missing feel the disparity and claims it is nothing new. With the help of Black and Missing, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, Moody was profiled in the November 2015 issue of Essence Magazine, “Bring Her Home for the Holidays: Jasmine Moody.”
In comparison to other missing person cases such as Natalie Holloway, Chandra Levy, and Laci Peterson, the news media coverage has been minimal.
Black and Missing Foundation works with the families of the missing, media and law enforcement nationwide to ensure equal attention and resources are available to every black missing adult and child. The nonprofit has become well-known for addressing the disproportionate amount of media attention and cited in hundreds of articles throughout the United States.
According to statistics on the Black and Missing website, as of 2011, there were 692,944 entries of missing persons in the FBI’s NCIC system, of that 33% were black missing persons totaling 229,736.
There is a $2,500 reward offered for information leading to the whereabouts of Jasmine Moody and the prosecution of anyone involved in her disappearance. If anyone has information about the whereabouts of Jasmine Moody, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.
Corinna Slusser, 19, was last seen at the Haven Motel in Queens, New York the morning of September 20, 2017. New York Police Department (NYPD) fears she was kidnapped by a sex trafficking ring and friends and family fear the worst.
According to relatives, in early 2017, Slusser had dropped out of her Bloomberg, Pennsylvania high school and moved to New York City with a 32-year old man she had hoped was giving her a “fresh start.”
According to Marnie O’Neill’s article “Missing teen feared kidnapped by sex-trafficking ring left cryptic Instagram clue,” Slusser’s aunt Julie Anne Becker-Calfa told Dateline, “She wanted out of this small town and this guy gave her that out.”
Police instead suspect the man, turned “pimp”, lured her into prostitution.
Police fear Corinna Slusser has been kidnapped into a sex trafficking ring
The pimp, whose name has been withheld by police, was arrested and held on a $1000 bond.
Court documents revealed on August 25, 2017, police had responded to a 911 call at 1:15 am from the Harlem Vista Hotel and found Slusser “crying and shaking”. She told officers her pimp had stolen $300 from her while she was in the shower. He began strangling her when she confronted him, slamming her against the wall, making it hard for her to breathe.
The court issued a temporary “Order of Protection” to Slusser and a copy was mailed to the address she listed on file at her mother’s home back in Pennsylvania.
Slusser’s mother, Sabina Tuorto, opened the mail to find a copy of the order several days later. Fearfully, she called her daughter to ask what was going on; however, Slusser told her mother not to worry.
When Slusser did not show up at her grandfather’s funeral in Florida, her family reported her missing on September 12th.
On September 20th, an anonymous individual called the NYPD and told them Slusser had been seen leaving a hotel in Queens. Police have confirmed; however, she has not been seen since, elevating concerns of family and police.
Mysterious Instagram Post
On September 10th, Slusser posted a puzzling message and mysterious photograph on Instagram featuring a young woman wearing a black baseball cap and smoking a joint in the middle of heavy traffic on a city street. It was her last post since she was reported missing.
An avid social media user, Corinna Slusser’s last Instagram post on September 10, 2017
NYPD’s Vice Human Trafficking Team fear Slusser has been kidnapped by a sex-trafficking ring and passed to different pimps since her disappearance. Investigators suspect sex-traffickers kidnapped Slusser after she reported her pimp to police, a rule not to be broken in the underground world of sex-trafficking.She tagged the picture, “The Bronx”, but friends and family both have said the picture looks like it was taken somewhere in South America rather than New York.
Prior to her disappearance, a cheerleader and popular student in high school with future dreams of becoming a makeup artist, Slusser suddenly moved out of her mother’s home at age 17 and dropped out of school. While staying at a friend’s home near her mother, Slosser began suffering from depression and attempted suicide. While recovering in the hospital, she met the man who lured her to New York in March.
From High School to Possible Call Girl
According to an interview with Oxygen, “Corinna Slusser’s Aunt Believes She Was a ‘Call Girl’ Who Was Killed or Abducted After Attempting to Go Home”, Becky’s aunt told them she fears her niece was abducted or murdered after trying to return home.
While in New York, Slusser sent home photographs of her new apartment in the Bronx telling family she was working “customer service” on weekends.
According to Slusser’s aunt Becker-Calfa, Slusser’s social media posts were becoming more provocative and inappropriate.
She told Oxygen, “People have come forward saying she was boasting that she was making a lot of money doing things called dinner dates but saying there was no sex involved – that was when she first moved out there – and that meant they were just paying to take her to dinner. [Police] believe that escalated into actually being a call girl. She was still being treated well and apparently was able to get her own apartment. When she wanted to go home the next day, that was when they believe she was abducted.”
On October 10th, Slusser’s mother posted a plea on Facebook, “My daughter was a great student, a cheerleader. She had many friends and lived her life as a normal teenager. I need her home and I can’t bear any more days like this, I fear the worst, but I pray for the best and her return home.”
NY Daily News, “Missing teen sex trafficking victim has likely been passed between pimps and sent out of New York,” reports police suspect Slusser is no longer in New York city. They feared she had been moved from her home-base in Harlem or killed after filing assault charges.
A source told Daily News, “There is no indication she is subject to foul play,” but added nothing is certain. Slusser’s name has come up in several vice investigations giving some hope she is still out there.
As an avid social media user, there have been no posts from Slusser since September 2017.
The Toll of Human and Sex Trafficking
Human trafficking is defined as the exchange of money for services that have been obtained by force, fraud or coercion. There is little to no difference in the definition of sex trafficking.
Thomas Lauth, CEO of Lauth Investigations International, has worked missing persons, human and sex-trafficking cases for over twenty years. “Human trafficking is a hidden crime because victims are often afraid to come forward,” said Lauth. “They fear the wrath of the traffickers and may also fear law enforcement.”
A sex-trafficking victim profiled in a BBC report, “Shandra Woworuntu: My life as a sex trafficking victim,” had arrived in the U.S. hoping to start a new career in the hotel industry. Instead, she was trafficked into prostitution, sexual slavery, forced drug-ingestion and extreme violence.
Shandra Woworuntu, a human sex trafficking survivor now runs Mentari, helping other survivors.
“Customer service is the key to this job, I was told,” said Woworuntu. A graduate of finance, she passed the tests for employment and accepted the job working in the U.S. for $5,000 per month.
“I arrived at JFK airport with four other women and a man and we were divided into two groups. Johnny took all my documents, including my passport, and led me to his car with two other women,” said Woworuntu.
The driver proceeded to take her to another driver, they exchanged money and demanded they switch cars. This happened three more times. They were taken to a house where they were exchanged, yet again, to a driver with a gun.
“After just a few hours in the U.S. I was forced to have sex,” Woworuntu said. “I did what I was told.”
The traffickers who participated in Woworuntu’s kidnapping were American, Indonesian, Taiwanese, and Malaysian Chinese. One man even had a police badge though she does not know to this day if he was really an official.
She was then taken up and down I-95, to various brothels, apartment buildings, hotels and casinos on the East coast. Woworuntu said, “I was rarely in the same place, and I never knew where I was going.”
The traffickers made her take drugs like meth, cocaine and weed at gunpoint, along with alcohol. Some customers were violent, white guys, black guys, Hispanics guys, old men and even university students.
The traffickers had told Woworuntu she had to pay back $30,000 before freedom would be granted. She would have to service, at least, 300 men to afford this amount. She felt hopeless.
With all the strength she could muster, Woworuntu found an opportunity to escape. She went to police as well as the Indonesian consulate but received no help. She found herself sleeping on the Staten Island Ferry, the NYC Subway and Times Square when a man listened to her story and called the FBI.
Eventually, “Johnny” and others were arrested due to Woworuntu’s testimony. Several other women were freed because of Woworuntu’s courage.
The rest of the story is now history and Woworuntu is a success story. “The FBI connected me with Safe Horizon, an organization in New York that helps victims of crime and abuse, including survivors of human trafficking,” said Woworuntu.
The group helped her get housing and secure a job. For her cooperation with the FBI, she was granted permanent residency.
Now, 17 years later, Woworuntu runs Mentari, a Human Trafficking Survivor and Empowerment program.
The organization offers:
Children’s Educational Books
Culinary Art Training
Peer to Peer Support
Training and Lectures
Transitional Housing (planning)
“When we find victims of sex-trafficking, ensuring they have the proper resources gives them a better chance at overcoming the trauma of being a victim,” says Lauth. “Programs like Mentari are giving victims a fighting chance.”
Disappearance of Relisha Rudd
Is She Still Alive?
Relisha Rudd, age 8, missing since March 1, 2014 from a Washington D.C. homeless shelter.
Relisha Rudd, age 8, has been missing since February 26, 2014, from Washington, D.C. The strange circumstances regarding her disappearance prompted a nationwide search during 2014 only creating more mystery.
Rudd was last seen at D.C. General Family Shelter, a homeless shelter in southeast Washington.
The official search for Rudd began on March 19, 2014. Six days before, a counselor from Payne Elementary School had alerted D.C. Child and Family Services (DCFS) that Rudd had been absent several days from school and they were concerned about educational neglect. Officials told the counselor Rudd was sick and had been excused and released to a “Dr. Tatum.”
The story did not sit well with the counselor, so the individual tried to arrange a meeting with Dr. Tatum at the shelter. The doctor did not show. The counselor then found out Dr. Tatum was not really a doctor; however, Kahlil Malik Tatum, 51, employed as a janitor at D.C. General Family Shelter who had clocked out early the same day.
Authorities were called and the search for Rudd began March 19, 2014, weeks after Rudd had last been seen.
Washington Metro Police searching Kenilworth Park in D.C. on March 31, 2014. Courtesy NY Daily News
Rudd’s stepfather, Antonio Wheeler, told the “Wilkos Show” relatives believed she was going to a pool party with Tatum’s granddaughter.The Family’s Story
Shamika Young, Rudd’s mother, told the host of Wilkos she was under the impression her daughter was at her sister’s house with her mother Melissa Young, which is why it took so long to report her missing. She went on to say she had no phone and no way to communicate with her mother.
According to a New York Daily article, “There’s still no answers in Relisha Rudd’s disappearance – but her relatives have theories about what happened,” Rudd’s family believes there is much more to the story.
On the show, Wilkos asks Wheeler what he believes about Young’s story and he responded, “I believe she has something to do with it and also her mother too.”
However, the rumors have also engulfed Wheeler. A far cry from the life as a homeless family, Wheeler posted social media pictures displaying wads of cash in his mouth, along with brand new sneakers and a new cell phone. All around the time Rudd went missing.
For nearly two years, the second-grader had been living in the homeless shelter at former D.C. General hospital. A barely livable place infested with bed bugs and no playground for children.
Friends and family of Rudd also claim Wheeler and Young often let her spend time with Tatum.Relatives say Rudd slept with a teddy bear named “Baby” and would often fake asthma attacks to avoid going home. Others close to her at school say she would arrive in dirty clothes, unkempt hair and always hungry. They said she never wanted to go home.
Rudd called Tatum her “godfather” and he spent much time establishing her trust. Belinda Wheeler, paternal grandmother of Rudd, described Tatum as someone who brought a lot of gifts to Rudd. He was considered a friend of the family even though the family did not know Tatum prior to moving into the homeless shelter.
This had not been the first time Rudd was excused from school in the care of Dr. Tatum. On March 13, 2014, a school counselor wrote a referral to DCFS indicating Rudd had more than 30 days of excused absences by her mother Shamika Young.
A Washington Post article, “Timeline: Disappearance of Relisha Rudd,” indicates Young has had a history with numerous reports made to social workers. One report indicates Rudd and her siblings were found in a filthy home, littered with trash, cigarette butts and ashes. Another report to DCFS indicates evidence of “medical neglect” while another says the children were left alone and told to bathe without supervision. Incidents of lack of food and suspicion Rudd may have been physically abused.
A tough life for such a young child.
At approximately 10 pm on March 19th, Tatum checks into room 132 at the Red Roof Inn in Oxon Hill, MD and seen with four unknown individuals. Less than an hour later, three people leave the room.
At approximately 5:40 am on March 20th, one male individual returns to the room where police do not permit him to enter. He tells police he had helped Tatum do searches on the Internet for a handgun and downloaded the images on an Apple iPad.
At approximately 8 am, DC police contact Prince George’s County Police to request assistance and inform them Tatum may be driving a maroon 2007 Chevrolet Trail Blazer with a Washington Red Skins decal on the back window. The vehicle was seen parked outside of room 132 at the hotel.Police gain entry to the hotel room and find the body of Tatum’s wife Andrea Denise Tatum, lying face down on a bed, dead of a gunshot wound to the head.
Police find Andrea Tatum deceased inside Room 132 at the Red Roof Inn. Photo courtesy Washington Post/Lynh Bui.
Next, Police put out a “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) signal for a second vehicle, a white GMC truck. They later find said truck abandoned in Hyattsville, an urban city close to Washington D.C.
Tatum is charged with the murder of his wife and a warrant is issued for his arrest.
March 24th police release a new photo of Tatum and additional photos of Rudd.
Photo of Kahlil Tatum, AKA “Dr. Tatum”
The following day, March 25th, the FBI releases video of Tatum and Rudd at the Holiday Inn located in northeast Washington, D.C. They offer a $25,000 reward for Rudd’s safe return. Prince George’s County police offer an additional $25,000 leading to the arrest of Tatum.
Tatum caught on surveillance video leading Rudd into a hotel room in Maryland.
D.C. police chief, Cathy Lanier, said there are no confirmed sightings of Tatum and Rudd after March 1, 2014, and the FBI has not released the video of Rudd leaving the hotel where she was last seen with Tatum, citing an ongoing investigation. To generate leads for the case, the FBI released surveillance video showing Tatum leading Rudd into a room at a Holiday Inn Express in northeast D.C. on February 26, 2014.
On March 31st, a tip leads police to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in northeast Washington to search for the possible grave-site of Rudd. Instead, police found Tatum inside a shed dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His eyeglasses and gun were found next to him. They estimate his body had been there for at least 36-hours.
Police spent the next six days searching the 700-acre park for any sign on Rudd; however, none was found.
Authorities say Tatum bought 42-gallon trash bags on March 2nd and was seen at Kenilworth Park the same day.
Representatives from the Black and Missing Foundation based in Maryland, helped police conduct the search of the park. Derrick Butler, a volunteer with the organization said volunteers were told to look for anything that could belong to a child, including clothing, a shoe, toys – anything looking unusual. Nothing was found.
It is unclear whether police have enough information to confirm Rudd is deceased; however, the missing child investigation continues to remain active. Many others theorize Wheeler and Young may have sold Rudd to Tatum. It is unclear who the other individuals were seen at the hotel in Maryland and what Tatum had planned.
Based upon a tip, police launched a new search for Rudd January 2018. They focused on Anacostia Park near a boat ramp just north of Pennsylvania Avenue in southeast Washington. Police said their search included sonar, divers, boats, and cadaver dogs searching for any evidence related to the case. The site is across the river from the shelter and approximately 4 miles south of where Tatum’s body was found at Kenilworth Park.
Railroad bridge that crosses the Anacostia River across from shelter searched by police recovery teams January 2018. Photo courtesy of Washington’s Top News.
Other searches have included a 15-acre construction site on New York Avenue in December 2015 and the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington in April 2016.
Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations International has worked on missing person and unsolved homicide cases for over twenty years. He has found several victims of sex trafficking alive over the years. “We all can agree on one thing, the world is a very dangerous place for children,” Lauth said. “We must do more to combat human trafficking in order to protect our kids.”Other searches have included a 15-acre construction site on New York Avenue in December 2015 and the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington in April 2016.
Human and Sex Trafficking in the United States
According to the Black and Missing Foundation, the statistics maintained by the FBI National Crime Information Center conclude nearly 250,000 minorities were reported in 2016.
Hubs of human trafficking are located in Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and Maryland. Despite the common belief most human trafficking victims are immigrants, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, most children kidnapped are U.S. citizens sold into the sex trade.
As defined by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), child sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a minor with the purpose to commercial a sex act.
Offenders are commonly referred to as traffickers, or pimps, who target vulnerable children and gain control using attention, friendship, love, gifts, and a place to stay. Once a relationship is cultivated, traffickers then engage them in prostitution with the use of emotional, physical and psychological abuse including drugs, to maintain control over them.
Traffickers will alter the appearance of the child, isolate them and move them frequently to condition the children to remain loyal.
“No child is immune to becoming a victim of child sex trafficking,” says Lauth. “In addition, technological advances, the use of the Internet and cellular devices, has provided a convenient worldwide marketing platform for traffickers. They now use websites and social media to advertise and even sell victims, posing a challenge to law enforcement.”
Victims can range from 1-year old to 18-years old, most often started in the trade at approximately age 14.
Human trafficking is an annual $32 billion industry, surpassing the illegal sales of arms and expected to surpass the illegal sale of drugs in the next few years.
“Human trafficking is a hidden crime,” says Lauth. “The investigations are quite complex. It is critical for the public to report suspicious activity. We all need to work together to protect our children.”
Written By Kym Pasqualini