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Tumwater event calls attention to missing and exploited children

Cynthia Miller, 9, gets her photo taken and information card created by volunteers at the My ID Club booth during Missing Children’s Safety Day at the Tumwater Walmart on Sunday.
Cynthia Miller, 9, gets her photo taken and information card created by volunteers at the My ID Club booth during Missing Children’s Safety Day at the Tumwater Walmart on Sunday. sbloom@theolympian.com

Law enforcement, identification services and the families of missing children were among those who gathered Sunday at Walmart in Tumwater for Missing Children’s Safety Day, now in its fifth year, an organizer said.

The goal: Call attention to the problem of missing and exploited children, and how families can take steps to protect against it.

“It’s tough to prevent, but you can guard against it,” said Grays Harbor Sheriff’s detective Jason Wecker, one of a number of law enforcement officials in attendance.

Wecker encouraged parents to attend such events, where they can get their children fingerprinted and share other information. For example, the Washington State Patrol was distributing child identification kits, in which parents can affix a photo, complete personal information, add fingerprints, palm prints and even information about teeth — with the assistance of a dentist.

In the event of a disappearance, that information could be quickly shared with law enforcement.

Wecker, a relatively new detective, said he couldn’t talk about the Lindsey Baum case, but her presence could be felt Sunday. The gathering was marked by a trailer that included a large photo of the McCleary girl. Baum, who was 10 at the time of her disappearance, went missing the night of June 26, 2009, as she walked home from a friend’s home. She has not been found.

The families of other missing children participated Sunday, calling attention to their plights and sharing information about their causes.

Danica Childs of Federal Way disappeared Dec. 21, 2007, at 17, said her mother, Dianne Zoro and older sister, Jasmin Johnson. Childs’s 26th birthday is this month, her mother said.

They believe Childs was the victim of human trafficking and is being held against her will. That’s why they’re involved with a group called the Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking, which organized a “Break the Chains of Human Trafficking” 5K run/walk Saturday.

As they investigated Childs’ disappearance, including along Pacific Highway in Federal Way, all signs pointed to human trafficking, Zoro said.

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