One small St. Louis County town is missing dozens of teens

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Right now there are hundreds of missing kids all around the St. Louis area. Children are disappearing at an alarming rate, especially in one area – North St. Louis County. In the small community of Berkeley, MO alone, 33 kids have disappeared since 2000.

In this report, we`re going to tell you why they're forgotten, what may have happened to them, and what you can do about it. An astounding 219 boys and girls have disappeared from the St. Louis Metro area since 2000 according to our investigation. We compiled names from the Missouri Highway Patrol.

We began running names during the search for Monica Sykes, who disappeared from Berkeley. While her name was on the news, many other names have not brought the same attention. Those that have are now faded into the background behind other news events.

Phoenix Coldon`s parents still search without the same community support as when she first disappeared December 2011. Lawrence Coldon said, "It`s a terrible, crying, deplorable shame that so many people can come up missing in this country with a country with the type of resources that we have."

Phoenix was recently attending the University of Missouri-Columbia and living in North County. Her dad believes she may have been taken to be sold for sex and that she's alive.

"I found out where my daughter went missing -- there were three other girls that went missing in the same area where we were living," he said.

Advocate Kimberly Ritter said, "There`s a demand for child sex unfortunately."

We rode with Ritter who now looks at abandoned buildings as potential hiding places for people who want to enslave children for sex. She said, "You have to be aware because if you pay attention you may be able to save a child."

She learned about sex slaves by accident when working as a travel agent for nuns. The Sisters of St. Joseph asked her to train hotel employees how to spot it.

A judge this month sentenced Kyle Parks for selling girls out of a St. Charles motel. One was a missing teen from Ohio. Detectives traced her phone to the Red Roof Inn at Zumbehl and I-70. If traffickers and kidnappers are brazen enough to use hotels, Ritter thinks it's likely they're also working in abandoned buildings.

"No one comes to a location like this. It is hidden in plain sight," she said.

Like an abandoned North St. Louis house that reportedly hid a 12-year-old girl for days. She'd been reported missing after failing to show up at her school bus stop. A suspect now faces charges of kidnapping and sex assault. The backyard shows signs of people hanging out -- food containers and mattresses. Next door you can see another abandoned house.

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Casey Anthony: Not guilty in the murder of daughter Caylee Anthony

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Scott Peterson: Sentenced to death for murder of pregnant wife, Laci Peterson

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Martha Stewart: Guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements to a federal investigator

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Whitey Bulger: Guilty of racketeering leading to 11 murders

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Sentenced to death for involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing

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Dylann Roof: Found guilty of killing nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel church in South Carolina.

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Timothy McVeigh: Sentenced to death for involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing

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Michael Jackson: Acquitted on child molestation charges

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Lyle and Erik Menendez: Found guilty of murdering their parents

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Jodi Arias: Found guilty in murder of boyfriend Travis Alexander

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John Allen Muhammad: Sentenced to death for involvement in the Beltway sniper attacks

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Rod Blagojevich: Found guilty for extortion and attempting to sell a senate seat

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Scooter Libby: Found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators

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Rae Carruth: Found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle in the death of his pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams

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Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay: Found guilty of conspiracy, insider trading, fraud and making false statements in the Enron scandal

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Jerry Sandusky: Found guilty pf child sexual abuse.

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Ariel Castro: Pled guilty in connection with the abductions and abuse of three women.

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Ritter said, "You never know what's going on in those houses."

We check an abandoned building in North County. We spot kids toys in the debris and another mattress. Ritter talked about the mattress as she said, "This is one of the things I would expect to find in an abandoned house where kids who were homeless, who are taken, kids who are on drugs, laying for the night."

It's right inside the iconic Lewis and Clark Tower in Moline Acres. It's condemned. The elevators don't work, but kids walk by and tell us people are upstairs. I asked Ritter, "Why don`t you think police go in these places?"

She answered, "Everybody asks me that question. I don't know."

Hayes followed up, "Because we could find people inside."

Ritter added, "Apparently on the top floor from what they were saying." You can see the tower from the Moline Acres police station blocks away, but the police chief has no comment about checking inside for people who may need help.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Police Department has a special investigations unit trained to rescue sex slaves.

Sgt. Adam Kavanaugh told me, "We talk to a lot of the girls and a lot of them were just walking down the street, skip school, they're running away, they're walking down the street and then somebody will pull up and say 'hey where are you headed to?'"

During a traffic stop, County officers now know they have to look for more than just signs someone is selling drugs. They're looking for people who may be selling other people. They never know when they might find someone who's been missing.

Sgt. Kavanaugh said, "That`s one of those things that my unit pays attention to. We get all of the flyers of the missing girls and then we pay attention to our typical areas (as well as the website) Backpage, internet adds, to see if pictures show up in any of those advertisements."

State Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal has been one of the few politicians trying to get the public's attention about it. She recently posted on Facebook asking parents to make sure their kids "have a tracking device on their phones. Instruct them to keep it on when they leave the house. This is serious. Over 20 girls have gone missing in a very small local zone."

Chapelle-Nadal told me in person, "There are people zeroing in on our young girls -- and men as well -- because they want to capture them and make them part of the sex trade."

Chapelle-Nadal believes we should talk to kids about what can happen and remind them what they mean to us. She added, "Many times people don`t want to see the sadness in a person's eyes and they're reaching out. They're speaking through their behavior and we have to be in tune to this. We have to be able to see that something is wrong with 'Keisha.' (Maybe) 'Keisha' is not acting the way she usually acts. What`s going on at home? Sometimes it's OK to be a nosy neighbor."

Berkeley police did not respond to our questions about why Highway Patrol reports show such a concentration of missing girls there. We've compiled a complete list of every missing child 18 and under.

A local Facebook page called Unity Alert reports six people missing just during the 25th and 26rh of April. The group often forms "search and rescue" teams.

See the full list of missing people.

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