MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis family wants your help tracking down their loved one.
Each year thousands of young girls are swept into sex trafficking. This family says they don’t want to see the teenager lost in the streets, and they won’t leave her fate to chance.
Wiping away tears does nothing to stop the thoughts racing through Theresa McCaslin’s mind.
“My 17-year-old niece is out there with no phone, no money, no car on the streets,” she said.
McCaslin says her niece, Athena Duty, fell in the wrong crowd before disappearing from a rehabilitation center on Vance Friday.
“Her and six other kids ran away. Four of them have come back so far. My niece and two others still have not,” she said.
The aunt believes the teenager may have been lured away by an older man she was rumored to be seeing.
Now she fears that if Duty isn’t found in time, she could become tangled into the life in the streets.
“This isn’t one of those kids that is just going to be another kid gone. Nope. You’re going to find her, and you’re going to find every kid with her,” McCaslin said.
According to the family, Duty willingly went to the facility to get help with a drug problem. But since it’s not locked down, there wasn’t much keeping her from leaving the gates.
Loved ones can’t shake the feeling that she’s in trouble.
“I’ve got to get her face out there. Someone has to see her,” McCaslin said.
Police are calling Duty a runaway, but her family thinks it’s deeper than that. McCaslin says groups have started reaching out to her concerned that Duty may have gotten caught up in sex trafficking.
“The Halo Organization contacted me to help me find out if that is what happened to her,” the aunt said. “People think this happens in the movies. This happens in our city.”
The family has printed out fliers and police are on the lookout in hopes that she’s found safe and sound.
Her dad has been all over Midtown in every crack and corner you can think of, hoping to spot Athena’s face.
“We want to save her before it’s too late for her,” she said.
As time ticks on, faith that she’ll be found fuels their search.
The teenager attends White Station High School, so loved ones say she might be most comfortable in the White Station and Midtown area.
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (901)-528-CASH.