Although African-Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African-Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation to focus on the crisis of missing African-Americans.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile missing persons and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing.
Case Type: Endangered
DOB: Jul 03, 2000
Missing Date: Jul 14, 2015
Age Now: 15
Missing City: Stone Mountain
Missing State: Georgia
Case Number: 15-068406
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Medium
Eye Color: Black
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: 1500 blk of Autumn Hurst Trl.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Roach’s mother, Tomeka Minick, 39, a registered nurse, says she asked her daughter to walk the dog because she was running late for work. The last known video of Roach shows her leaving Minick’s home with the family dog. Neither Roach nor the dog has been found or heard from since.
Minick feels that because her daughter was the victim of sex trafficking earlier this year, police are not taking the case as seriously as they should.
“We have been really through hell trying to get people to listen to us,” Minick told NewsOne in an interview. “Because she was a victim of sex trafficking, it seems like everyone is leaning toward the fact that she ran away. But something else could have happened.”
Minick said her daughter left the house without any of her belongings. Her daughter also had no intention of leaving before she asked her to walk the dog. There has been no activity on any of Roach’s social media accounts.
The outpatient counselors Roach was seeing following her sex trafficking ordeal say she was doing well.
“She could have been walking the dog and someone randomly snatched her,” said Minick.
Minick says that Roach had been having a hard time adjusting following the death of her father in 2013. Minick and her three children then moved to Stone Mountain, Ga. for a fresh start. It soon became clear that the combination of having to make all new friends and the death of her father was weighing on Roach.
Minick says Roach began hanging out with friends she would not have chosen for her daughter. According to the mother, in January, Roach and her friends met some guys over the Internet and agreed to meet for a party where alcohol and drugs were involved. Roach was found and sent to the hospital.
Two weeks later, Roach, only 14-years-old at the time, disappeared again. She was taken off to different locations over the course of seven days by at least two adult men. Her captors threatened her with violence and trafficked her, but she was eventually recovered, said Minick.
A few days later, Roach went missing again. She was recovered in three days after her family found an advertisement offering the teen for sex. Two men were arrested in relation to the case.
Another reason she feels her daughter may be in danger is because she recently discovered that one of the alleged captors also lives about two miles away, said Minick.
“At the end of the day, these are children. Whether they ran away or not they are missing children,” said Minick.
Derrica Wilson, co-founder and president of the Black and Missing Foundation, said sex trafficking is becoming a factor in more and more of the missing persons cases they deal with.
“Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s happening here on U.S. soil. We are seeing an increase in the number of women and children being forced into human trafficking for sex and labor,” said Wilson.
The FBI says that people are being “bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves.”
During a week-long operation the FBI conducted across 106 cities in 2014, 168 children were recovered from prostitution and 281 pimps were arrested.
“Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims,” Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement about the operation last year.
“They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again. This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood,” she continued.
The Atlanta area has also become a hotbed for sex trafficking. During the FBI’s week-long anti-trafficking operation last year, 11 minors were recovered in the Atlanta area and 15 pimps were arrested. According to FBI statistics, 300 girls in the Atlanta area are lured into sex trafficking each month, including girls as young as 12; the average age is about 14.
A 2014 report on sex trafficking from the Urban Institute found that sex trafficking in Atlanta grew from a $238 million industry to a $290 million industry, outpacing the growth of both illegal drug and gun sales, and brought in more money than both of those enterprises combined. The report cited the number of conventions and events in Atlanta that brought people into town with money in their pockets and free time.
Across the country, stronger penalties for trafficking children may be needed, as well as a shift in the criminal justice system away from treating trafficked minors as criminals and not the victims they are.
“The sad thing about sex trafficking is that it happens to a lot of kids. It’s not just my child, but they make you feel like the child is the criminal,” said Minick. “I was amazed when I found out just how many girls are being trafficked in Atlanta. There are so many Black girls being trafficked in Atlanta that it was amazing to me.”
Minick said she’s holding out hope that her tall, smart child who was trying out for the soccer team will be found so that she can continue on the road to recovery. Because she feels police are not putting in the work, she spends her days posting fliers and has been traveling to veterinarian offices and dog pounds in the area to see if her dog has been recovered.
Capt. Steven Fore of the DeKalb County Police strongly disputes the characterization of his department’s efforts to find Roach.
“Any missing juvenile is considered endangered,” Fore told NewsOne.
Fore said the case is being handled by the Special Victims Unit.
“This unit specializes in handling cases of this nature and take their work and this case very seriously. Detectives are actively investigating and working to locate Amiyah,” he added.
Minick said she and her family are doing their best to stay positive and hopeful that Roach will be found safe.
“It’s hard on everybody because no one saw this and no expected this. We thought things were getting better,” said Minick. “They keep saying that she ran away but I don’t believe my child ran away.”
Last Seen Wearing: Roach was last seen wearing a black spaghetti string top, blue leggings, and gold flip-flops. She had a colorful scarf around her head.
Identifying Marks or Characteristics: Blonde and brown hair weaving. Last seen walking a tan and black Yorkie dog.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts or circumstances of disappearance for Amiyah Roach may call Dekalb County Police at 770-724-7711 or contact the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.