New pleas for missing Bonney Lake teen to return home
FIFE, Wash. - There is new focus on human trafficking with all of the attention on a missing Bonney Lake teen.
Police and advocacy groups say it's a bigger problem than most people think.
"My greatest hope for Lily is that if she. for some reason, hears me right now," said human trafficking survivor Kyra Doubek.
She is reaching out to Lily Christopherson. Police say the 15-year-old ran away from home and was with sex offender Christopher Fitzpatrick who, along with Maria Counts, is charged with trafficking and kidnapping.
"I would want her to know that there is hope," said Doubek. "That there's a whole team and community of people that are just waiting to help."
Her group, the Organization for Survivors of Prostitution, estimates 300 to 500 young people are exploited each year in King County alone.
"It's huge," she said. "Huge."
"I think it's bigger than a lot of people would think," said Tasha Smith.
She runs the Sex Trafficking Response & Awareness Program in Tacoma and said her group, too, is standing by to help.
"Obviously it's a big concern. We have a lot of clients that have experienced this or experiencing this now. So we know it's there," said Smith.
"It's a lot bigger than we all think," said Washington State Patrol Det. Sgt. Bryan DuCommun. "We like to put it away and not think about it because it's painful to think about it. Especially with your own children."
He works under cover in the human trafficking unit of the Missing & Exploited Children's Task Force. "This is the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my career. If you're saving a kid, rescuing a kid, helping out a victim who needs help, there's nothing greater than that."
The concern remains in finding Lily. Doubek continues reaching out.
"Don't feel like you can't come back. I know that you're probably scared and you've heard a bazillion different things that are not true. Just come back," she said.
We don't normally show photos of trafficking victims, but the family and police want Lily's image out there to help bring her home. There is a $2,000 reward in helping to find her.