Garry Henning’s grandson went missing in 2006 and was found deceased. Since then, Garry has volunteered for Team HOPE. Read about his experience in our ongoing series from volunteers with Team HOPE, a peer support program for families with missing or sexually exploited children.
Quadrevion Henning was my grandson — the only son of my son Quentin. Quadrevion, who we called Dre, was always a smart kid. He was bright for his age.
Dre had the biggest smile and a loving personality. I wish that everyone would have known him. They would have loved him as much as we did.
My son Quentin was in the Army and because of that he and Dre lived in Japan for a while. Usually when Quentin deployed, Dre lived with us.
When Dre came back to live with us we placed him in military school. He said he wanted to be like his dad, his papa, his uncle, his aunties — we all had served our country. He loved the school, after all where could you go and shout at other students and not get in trouble?
Dre was so proud of the school military awards he received. Two were for perfect attendance. Sometimes he would hold the certificates up and say with that shy smile, “Papa, did you and granny ever get one of these?” I was lucky if I went an entire month without missing.
The day Dre and his friend Purvis went missing was the worst day of our lives. The 27-day nightmare did not feel real. There was an overwhelming sense of helplessness, a feeling that this could not be happening. Our baby should have been home with us, with his granny, in his own bed, raiding the refrigerator, making noise with his cousin Eric.
Dre and Purvis’ bodies were found in a pond on April 15, 2006 near where they were last playing basketball.
It has been seven years since Dre’s death and sometimes I still see my wife sitting at the window watching for his school bus as she always did. I sit next to her and whisper to her, “Honey the school bus won’t stop in front of our house again.”
But she still sits there for a little while longer.
Our Dre lost his life trying to save his drowning friend. People say he was a hero. We say he was just being Dre.
When Dre went missing, our home was turned upside down. So many people were there, all times of the day and night. We had no private time for ourselves.
Church groups held prayer services in front of our home. Politicians gave press conferences on our lawn. Police, the FBI and sheriff’s deputies were in and out of the house. When we left our home, news reporters pushed microphones in our faces. There was so much madness.
We kept telling ourselves that they were just trying to help, but we needed someone with a level head.
As I look back, there are things I remember and some I don’t. But I do remember the call from Team HOPE member Colleen as if it was yesterday. That call from Team HOPE was as if an angel had been sent.
We were skeptical at first but Colleen made us feel safe. She understood our plight, but how could this be? So many had been calling and coming by. However she was different. She talked with understanding, talked as if she was in our shoes.
She reminded me to take care of myself, to tell the truth no matter what and to take some time for family. I can’t remember how many times she talked to me. But I do remember at times I would come home and ask, “Had that lady called?” She was my safety net. I needed to hear a voice of reason, not a voice trying to push me in one direction or another.
After this experience with Team HOPE, I also became a volunteer. When I went to my first Team HOPE training I did not know what to expect, but I was embraced with open arms. This was a very special group.
When it came time for me to tell Dre’s story, tears flowed, but this time they were tears of inclusion. The room with strangers not only heard the story, they got it. I knew then I wanted to be part of this. Team Hope became and still is my therapy. Even years later, I consider myself a referral, in need of my Team Hope family.
If your life has been touched by the heartbreak of having a missing or exploited child and you feel you need support contact Team HOPE at 1-866-305-HOPE.
Teenagers are online. They are sharing photos, updates and information. Most parents know this, and many are taking the necessary steps to monitor what their children are doing online and who they are talking to.
But some parents don’t think of cellphones when they think about their children’s online activity. Cellphones are more than a means to make a phone call. These days, there is very little a computer can do that a cellphone can’t.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 95 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 are on the Internet. But these teenagers aren’t just going online with laptops or desktops. Seventy-four percent have access on a mobile basis, and 25 percent mostly access the Internet on cellphones.
These teens have their cellphones on them at all times, and parents can’t always be looking over their shoulders to see what they are doing. That is why having frequent conversations with teens is so important.
The following tips come from our NetSmartz Workshop, an Internet safety program with resources for parents, children and educators.
Get more Internet safety resources, including tips, videos and games, at the NetSmartz Workshop.
February is Black History Month. We are focusing our blog this month on issues related to the African American community, including child sex trafficking in Washington, D.C., a city with a 50 percent African-American population.
Ari Redbord is the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia serves as both the local and federal prosecutor for the nation’s capital. On the local side, prosecutions extend from misdemeanor drug possession cases to murders. On the federal side, prosecutions extend from child pornography to terrorism.
In May 2011, Robert Brathwaite, a 35-year-old trafficker also known as “Smoke,” first encountered his victim, a 14-year-old runaway. The child, who had run away from home in another state, was living in an apartment in Washington, D.C. Braithwaite and a companion transported the victim to various places in Washington, D.C. and Maryland for purposes of sex.
As a prosecutor at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, I have had the ability to focus on crimes involving child exploitation. Through that lens I have seen some of the darkest corners of our city and of the human spirit. This is perhaps most true in cases involving the trafficking of minors. Traffickers feed off of the insecurities and a lack of the most basic human needs – food, shelter and love – to prey on our community’s most vulnerable victims.
Since its inception in 2004, the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force has been recognized by the Department of Justice as one of the most active, aggressive and productive human trafficking task forces in the nation. It is a national model for investigating and prosecuting cases of domestic sex trafficking involving the commercial exploitation of children.
The D.C. Task Force has become a national leader in organizing a collaborative effort to strengthen criminal investigations and prosecutions of human traffickers with a victim-centered approach. The D.C. Task Force, one of the largest anti-human trafficking organizations in the world, has a membership of over 20 government agencies and 35 non-governmental organizations.
One of those members is the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. On May 31, 2011, the victim being trafficked by Robert Brathwaite was picked up by astute D.C. Metropolitan Police officers for truancy when they identified the victim as too young to be walking the streets late at night. An investigation led police to Brathwaite, who was located close to where the child was. Brathwaite was arrested and plead guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking of children, transportation of a minor for the purpose of prostitution and possession of a firearm.
This is just one example of the steps our members take to protect these child victims and get those exploiting them off the streets.
As Coordinator of the D.C. Task Force, it is my job to bring together law enforcement and non-governmental entities to combat this scourge and serve victims of human trafficking.
Organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shine a light on the danger to these vulnerable victims. Specifically, NCMEC is rightfully focused on the most vulnerable victims – those relegated to foster care, runaway and throwaway youth.
Learn more about the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force, their members and the work they do to keep children safe on their website.
February is Black History Month. We are focusing our blog this month on issues related to the African American community, including cases of unidentified children like this young woman found in Georgia.
In Columbus, Ga. below an Interstate 185 overpass a female’s body was found near a creek at the end of a dirt road. It was Dec. 22, 2005. Law enforcement believes she was between 14 and 21 years old and had been dead 1 or 2 days prior to being discovered.
It has been 8 years since that discovery and the girl’s identity is still a mystery.
This past March, members of our Project ALERT® team deployed to Georgia to meet with investigators from the Columbus Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigators Medical Examiner’s Office to offer additional resources in the effort to identify “Jane Doe 2005.”
Project ALERT is a team of approximately 170 retired local, state and federal law enforcement professionals who volunteer their time and experience to the law enforcement community on behalf of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The volunteers who deployed to Georgia were biometric specialists who were on hand to assist law enforcement in the collection of biometric information about the unidentified child. The assistance of Project ALERT can be requested by law enforcement by calling us at 1-800-843-5678.
Once Project ALERT members were on site, coordination began with the Columbus Regional Hospital to complete a CT scan of Jane Doe’s skull. A CT scan produces a three-dimensional photograph that can be loaded onto a computer. One of our forensic artists then uses that photo as a blueprint for creating an image of what the child looked like before they died.
These advancements in technology are cutting in half the time it takes to complete a reconstruction image and are allowing investigators to take a fresh look at unidentified cases. The hope is that the image will spark recognition in someone and lead to the person’s identity.
In addition to the composite image, investigators use the person’s clothing and body markings to help identify them. When the young Jane Doe 2005 was found wearing a leopard print corset bustier top, size small, with a black net style long sleeved shirt over it.
She was wearing acrylic pale pink tips on her fingernails as well as clear and white nail polish on her toenails. She was wearing a wig with long straight black hair and her natural hair color and style are unknown.
She was approximately 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 108 pounds. Unique scarring was found on the young woman’s lower back; five small scars running down the midline of her back with one large oval scar next to those that contained stitch marks. It was obvious that the girl had suffered trauma or injury to her lower back and stitches had been used to heal the wounds.
She had on “Baby Phat” brand jeans, size 3, as well as black socks. She also had a metal ring with two ovals on the fourth finger of her left hand.
View the poster for Jane Doe 2005 here: http://ow.ly/tmbBd. If you have any information regarding Jane Doe 2005 you are urged to call 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678). Calls may be made anonymously.
Sisters, Sheila and Katherine Lyon, were last seen on March 25, 1975 at the Wheaton Plaza Mall in Montgomery, Md.
Now, nearly 39 years later, information has been uncovered that may lead to a resolution to this almost four decade mystery. Today the Montgomery County Police along with the FBI held a press conference asking the public for any information they may have on convicted sex offender and person of interest, Llyod Lee Welch aka: Michael Welch. Additionally, law enforcement is asking for any information the public may have on Welch’s then girlfriend, Helen Craver.
If anyone has any information regarding Michael Welch or Helen Craver contact investigators at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or they can submit a tip online at: http://tips.fbi.gov
The Lyon sisters were shopping for a birthday present for their mom and had plans to eat lunch at the Orange Bowl restaurant.
Sheila, 10, and Katherine, 12, were instructed to be home no later than 4 p.m. When the girls failed to return home police were called and an extensive search began.
During the early hours of the investigation, police recieved information that the girls were seen talking to an unidentified male outside of the restaurant. Witnesses stated that the girls were also being followed by a man during their time at the mall. Based on the information provided a sketch was created.
According to the Montgomery County Police Department, Welch has been in a Delaware prison since 1997 after being arrested for sexual offenses towards young girls in several states. Prior to his incarceration, Welch traveled extensively throughout the United States working for a carnival company that often set up at malls. Law enforcement believes there may be more victims who have not yet come forward.
View the poster for the Lyon sisters: http://ow.ly/tLc1y.
February is Black History Month. We are focusing our blog this month on issues related to the African-American community, including cases of missing children like Dannette and Jeannette Millbrooks.
On March 18, 1990, 16-year-old twins Dannette and Jeannette Millbrooks left their home on Cooney Circle in Augusta, Ga. to visit a family friend. They were last seen near the intersection of 12th Street and MLK Boulevard at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Dannette and Jeannette’s mother, Mary, and their younger sister, Shanta, verified that the girls made it to their friend’s residence. They left their friend’s at approximately 4 p.m. and were seen inside a Pump-N-Shop gas station. Law enforcement says the sisters bought chips there and left, together, on foot. The two girls have not been seen or heard from since.
Both twins had hair styled in Jheri curl at the time of their disappearance. Their ears were pierced one time each and both had scars on their navel from hernia removal operation performed shortly after birth.
Dannette is described as 5 feet 6 inches, 130 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She is bowlegged. Dannette was last seen wearing a white shirt with the image of the cartoon character Mickey Mouse on it, white jeans and black shoes.
Jeannette is described as 5 feet 4 inches, 125 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue pullover shirt, a white turtleneck, a beige skirt with white stockings and white sneakers.
Twins Dannette and Jannette Millbrooks are still missing. View their poster: http://ow.ly/tf0q3. If you have any information, contact us at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Calls can be made anonymously.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is encouraged by the increased awareness of child sex trafficking that occurs before large events such as this weekend’s Super Bowl. However, some news outlets have attributed the statement “10,000 child sex trafficking victims were at the Super Bowl in Miami” to us. That is inaccurate.
No one knows with certainty the exact number of children exploited through sex trafficking in the United States or during events like the Super Bowl. The dynamics of power, manipulation, dominance and control involved in the crime make it very difficult for a child to disclose the abuse, violence or torture they have been forced to endure. Despite these challenges, law enforcement and advocacy groups are doing tremendous work in combating this problem.
“We applaud law enforcement, advocacy groups, community groups and hotels whose dedication advances efforts to combat this during the Super Bowl and every day of the year,” said John Ryan, president and CEO of NCMEC. “Greater collaboration between organizations means victims will not only be recovered, but will get the resources and services they need.”
While we don’t know exact numbers, anecdotal evidence offers some insight into the scope of the problem. We do know that 1 out of 7 of the runaways reported to us in 2013 were likely sex trafficking victims. This number has tripled since we started tracking this number.
We recently again partnered with the FBI for “Operation Cross Country 7.” During that operation, which spanned 72 hours and 76 cities, 105 child sex trafficking victims, as young as 13, were recovered. Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative. Launched in 2003, the initiative has helped recover more than 2,700 child victims.
The issue of child sex trafficking is complex. In the real world, children are being sold on the streets, in hotels and in casinos. In the online world, they are being advertised on a variety of websites. Their “pimps” can be perceived friends or boyfriends, or even family members or foster parents. It is a unique type of child victimization.
An often-overlooked aspect of child sex trafficking is that it is also a problem of missing children. Many child sex trafficking victims are missing from their parents, foster parents or group homes. Approximately 81 percent of the missing children reported to NCMEC are runaways. These children represent the most vulnerable children in our country. Traffickers know this. They actively target runaways and then lure them into the sex trade using psychological manipulation, illegal drugs and violence.
These children are victims and should be treated as such. It’s not an issue of prostitution. It’s not an issue of choice.
We applaud the hotel workers around the Super Bowl who are training their staff to identify possible trafficking incidents. We are grateful to the victim service providers who are already at work near the stadium, offering the victims hope and a way out.
The commercial sexual exploitation of children takes place every day in every state in the U.S. As one police officer told us, the only way not to find it in your community is not to look for it. Events such as the Super Bowl can serve as a catalyst for change – change that begins with awareness.
If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or call us at 1-800-843-5678. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
“Amy”, as she’s known in court documents, was just 8 years old when her uncle sexually abused and raped her. He photographed the abuse to produce child pornography. These images were then circulated on the Internet, and offenders worldwide collected and circulated the images. Amy was revictimized with each viewing.
The emotional cost of Amy’s harm is immeasurable. Individuals who possess child pornography violate and exploit their victims by viewing a record of the child’s sexual abuse for personal gratification. This problem is pervasive and has grown steadily in recent years. It is increasingly important for victims of child pornography to be able to recover full restitution for the harm caused to them.
Amy, through her attorneys, will argue today before the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Paroline v. United States. This landmark case will decide to what extent offenders who possess images of Amy’s sexual abuse must pay for the harm caused by their collective and ongoing victimization. This case will impact not only Amy’s ability to obtain restitution but the restitution claims of other victims of online child pornography.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, with pro bono assistance from the law firm of Ropes & Gray, has submitted an amicus brief to the Court supporting Amy’s request for full restitution. In this brief we explain that the demand for child pornography drives its production, and those who possess these images are as culpable as producers of the images.
Our organization serves as the central repository in the U.S. for information related to child pornography. Our Child Victim Identification Program provides information relevant to child pornography investigations and assists law enforcement in the identification of child pornography victims. The CyberTipline is the central reporting mechanism to which the public, law enforcement and electronic service providers can provide tips and leads concerning child sexual exploitation.
Amy’s experience demonstrates the unique harm she and other victims of child pornography suffer. Between August 2002 and September 2013, we received more than 4,900 submissions from law enforcement that included images of Amy. Those reports contained more than 70,000 images of her abuse that had been viewed and/or traded by offenders for their own gratification.
"How can I ever get over this when the crime that is happening to me will never end? How can I get over this when the shameful abuse I suffered is out there forever and being enjoyed by sick people?"
- Amy, as written in her victim impact statement
Every individual who views, possesses, creates or distributes child pornography contributes to the harm suffered by these victims. Restitution can never undo the damage Amy suffered, but it can provide necessary funds for her and other victims to receive therapy and compensation for the entirety of their losses. The full cost of the harm suffered as a result of the global trafficking of child sexual abuse images should be on the shoulders of the offenders, not the innocent victims.
Today is AMBER Alert Awareness Day and we are happy to announce the launch of the @AMBERAlert Twitter feed. Between Mar. 30 and June 30, 2013 Twitter had 49.2 million average monthly active users in the United States. @AMBERAlert will mobilize this large network to help rapidly and safely recover endangered missing children.
An 8-year-old from Ohio is abducted by his non-custodial father. An AMBER Alert is activated. A group of friends receives rapid notification of the AMBER Alert on their cell phones. They see the listed vehicle and call 911. The abductor is arrested and the child safely rescued.
An 8-month-old child is abducted from his home in Minnesota while his mother was in the shower. An AMBER Alert is activated. A teenager receives rapid notification of the AMBER Alert on her cellphone. She sees the vehicle and calls 911. The abductor is arrested and the child safely rescued.
A 16-year-old girl in California is abducted and her family murdered. An AMBER Alert is activated. A group of people five states away encounters the child and abductor while hiking. When they return home they receive rapid notification of the AMBER Alert on TV. They recognize the child and call 911. After a massive search effort the child is safely rescued.
By following @AMBERAlert on Twitter you are increasing your opportunity to help save a child. Not only will you receive notification of an AMBER Alert on your Twitter feed, you’ll have the opportunity to share the alert with all of your followers.
As always, the more eyes on a missing child’s photo, the better the chances someone will recognize him or her. Share news about AMBER Alert on Twitter by clicking on the Tweet button below.
This week we are excited to announce a new milestone: our 150th Missing Children Seminar for Chief Executive Officers.
This two-day seminar is designed for police chiefs, sheriffs, 911 call center directors and missing children clearinghouse managers. At each of these 150 training sessions we’ve welcomed CEOs with a varying degree of experience in missing child cases. Some are from large communities where, sadly, children go missing with a steady frequency. Others come from smaller, rural towns where a child has never gone missing.
We work to familiarize all participants, regardless of experience, with issues related to missing child cases. For some the training is a welcome refresher and for others it is an essential lesson. We spend the two days talking about effective policies and practices, technical assistance, training and our available resources.
“This was the best organized training program I have ever experienced… I am anxious to implement the many things that I learned at this seminar,” said Chief John Pritchard, Herington Police Department.
For example, the chief of the Gloucester Township Police attended our CEO Seminar in 2012. He then returned to New Jersey to implement some of the best practices he learned. In April 2013, Gloucester Township Police announced the creation of the Project MARRS (Missing At-Risk Response Strategies) program focusing on preventing child disappearances and responding to them.
We are happy to say that 5,762 law enforcement professionals have completed the CEO Seminar since it was first offered in 1997.
If you are a CEO interested in taking this free training, visit www.missingkids.com/Training/CEO for more information.