Duson Police Chief Kip Judice says his department, working in conjunction with the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Missouri police, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Human Trafficking Center have recovered a 16-year-old male who was listed as a Missing Person (Involuntarily) in the National Crime Information Center, a national police database of missing or wanted people, stolen items, etc.
Chief Judice says the 16-year-old was reported as missing on July 21 in Missouri by his mother after he failed to return home. There were some indicators that the child was traveling across the United States, but authorities were unsuccessful in immediately locating the missing child.
Judice says that shortly after 9 p.m. on Aug. 9 officers from the Duson Police and deputies from the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a Duson motel to investigate an alleged sexual assault. Upon arrival the law enforcement officers identified the complainant as the missing child from Missouri. The child was obviously traumatized, but relieved to be safe. He was transported to a local medical facility where he was treated for scratches and what appear to be human bites. He has been released and is awaiting for transportation back to Missouri to be reunited with his family.
The National Human Trafficking Center has secured safe and secure transportation for the child who is expected to leave Friday to begin his return.
Judice says the child reported a series of events which started with a response to a Tinder online message. After responding to the ad on the online dating app, he met a man believed to be 27 years old who is a cross-country truck driver. The first trip was from St Louis, Missouri to Raleigh, North Carolina where he remained for several days. The child was then transported from North Carolina to California with the truck driver. The pair then headed east from California to Miami, Fla.
According to the child, the trucker stopped in Duson to rest. That is when the male was able to alert a clerk at the Duson motel to call authorities.
The investigation has not yet confirmed that a crime occurred in Louisiana, and no arrest was made but the North Carolina man was identified, detained, questioned, and then released pending additional investigation. Judice says other law enforcement agencies may join this investigation as it continues due to jurisdictional issues.