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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Most famous US crime trials over the past 25 years
Most famous US crime trials over the past 25 years
OJ Simpson: Not guilty in the murder of wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and friend Ron Goldman
O.J. Simpson shows the jury a new pair of Aris extra-large gloves, similar to the gloves found at the Bundy and Rockingham crime scene 21 June during his double murder trial in Los Angeles. Deputy Sheriff Roland Jex (L) and Prosector Christopher Darden (R) look on.
(Photo credit AFP/Getty Images)
Casey Anthony: Not guilty in the murder of daughter Caylee Anthony
Casey Anthony (R) reacts to being found not guilty on murder charges at the Orange County Courthouse on July 5, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. At left is her attorney Jose Baez. Casey Anthony had been accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008. (Photo by Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images)
Scott Peterson: Sentenced to death for murder of pregnant wife, Laci Peterson
Scott Peterson listens to the prosecutor during his trial on charges in the murder of his wife, Laci Peterson, on January 4, 2004, in Modesto, California.
(Photo by Bart Ah You/Modesto Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
Martha Stewart: Guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements to a federal investigator
Martha Stewart leaves US Federal Courthouse after being found guilty 05 March, 2004. The Multi-millionaire lifestyle guru was convicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail. Stewart's stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, was found guilty on the same counts, but cleared of a separate charge of making false documents. The jury of eight women and four men took a little over two days to reach their decision. Judge Miriam Cederbaum set sentencing for June 17.
(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Whitey Bulger: Guilty of racketeering leading to 11 murders
Former mob boss and fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger, who was arrested in Santa Monica, California on June 22, 2011 along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig, is seen in a combination of booking mug photos released to Reuters on August 1, 2011. Bulger, currently on trial in Boston for murder and racketeering, has angrily cursed in open court, his own lawyer has described him as a mobster and one potential witness this week turned up dead on the side of a road. As prosecutors prepare to wrap up their case early next week and hand it over to the defense, the biggest question on observers' minds is whether the 83-year-old defendant will break with convention once more and take to the witness stand.
(REUTERS/U.S. Marshals Service/U.S. Department of Justice/Handout)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Sentenced to death for involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing
A courtroom sketch shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (R) during the jury selection process in his trial at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts January 15, 2015. Tsarnaev, who appeared in court on Thursday wearing a sport jacket and collared shirt, more formally dressed than in last week's appearances, and had trimmed his hair, is also charged with fatally shooting a university police officer three days after the bombing. He has pleaded not guilty.
(REUTERS/Jane Flavell Collins)
Dylann Roof: Found guilty of killing nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel church in South Carolina.
Dylann Storm Roof appears by closed-circuit television at his bond hearing in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. June 19, 2015 in a still image from video.
Timothy McVeigh: Sentenced to death for involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is shown being escorted from the Noble County Courthouse as he is transported to Oklahoma City for arraignment in this April 22, 1995 file photo. One year ago today, on June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed after being sentenced to death for the bombing of a federal building in Oaklahome City, a crime that took 168 lives and shook a complacent America to the core.
(Photo by Jim Bourg / Reuters)
George Zimmerman: Acquitted of murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin
George Zimmerman leaves the courtroom a free man after being found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida, July 13, 2013. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges on Saturday for the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in this central Florida town in February of last year.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian: Guilty of second-degree homicide for 'mercy killings'
Dr. Jack Kevorkian is quiet after he was found guilty of second-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance case in the death of Thomas Youk in a Oakland County Courtroom in Pontiac, March 26. Kevorkian was released on personal bond.
(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)
Michael Jackson: Acquitted on child molestation charges
Michael Jackson leaves the courthouse after being found 'not-guilty' on all charges against him.
(Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage)
Jeffrey Dahmer: Confessed to and was found guilty of 15 murders
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is escorted into a Milwaukee County Circuit Court by a Milwaukee County Sheriffs Deputy for his second appearance in this July, 1991, file photo. Dahmer was found guility of the murders of 16 young men, and sentenced to life in prison in February of 1992.
(Photo via Reuters)
Lyle and Erik Menendez: Found guilty of murdering their parents
Erik Menendez (R) and brother Lyle listen to court proceedings during a May 17, 1991 appearance in the case of the shotgun murder of their wealthy parents in August 1989. The California Supreme Court must decide whether to review a lower court decision to allow alleged tape confessions made to a psychiatrist as evidence before a preliminary hearing can take place.
Jodi Arias: Found guilty in murder of boyfriend Travis Alexander
Jodi Arias is seen in photo from the Arizona Department of Corrections taken April 13, 2015. Arias has been moved to Perryville State Prison west of Phoenix to begin serving her sentence of life with no possibility of parole for shooting and stabbing her ex-boyfriend to death in 2008.
(REUTERS/Arizona Department of Corrections/Handout)
John Allen Muhammad: Sentenced to death for involvement in the Beltway sniper attacks
Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad (L) listens with his attorney's Peter Greenspun (C) and Jonathan Shapiro during Muhammad's murder trial in courtroom 10 at the Virginia Beach Circuit Court October 22, 2003 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Muhammad has decided not to represent himself in court and to turn his defense back to his attorneys.
(Photo by Vicki Cronis-Pool/Getty Images)
Rod Blagojevich: Found guilty for extortion and attempting to sell a senate seat
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (L) addresses the media while wife Patti Blagojevich holds back tears at the Dirksen Federal Building December 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison after he was found guilty of 17 public corruption charges.
(Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)
Scooter Libby: Found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators
I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby , former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, arrives at federal court March 2, 2007 in Washington, DC. Jury deliberations continue in the case against Libby. He is accused of lying under oath during an investigation into CIA employee Valerie Plame Wilson's blown cover.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Rae Carruth: Found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle in the death of his pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams
Former NFL player Rae Carruth looks at a Mecklenburg County Sheriff's deputy just after the verdicts were announced in his first degree murder trial in Charlotte, January 19, 2001. Carruth was found not guilty of first degree murder, but the jury returned guilty verdicts on three related charges in the shooting death of his former girlfriend Cherica Adams.
(Photo via Reuters)
Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay: Found guilty of conspiracy, insider trading, fraud and making false statements in the Enron scandal
Jeffrey Skilling, former president and CEO of Enron Corp., arrives at the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in Houston, Texas Monday April 17, 2006. Skilling and Kenneth Lay, former chairman of Enron, are on trial for fraud and conspiracy.
(Photo by F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Los Angeles police officer Laurence Powell (L), one of the four defendants in the Rodney King case, waits for the start of his hearing 15 May 1992 in Los Angeles, CA. Judge Stanley Weisberg ruled in favor of a second trial for Powell on brutality charges.
(Photo credit should read POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerry Sandusky: Found guilty pf child sexual abuse.
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves the Centre County Courthouse in handcuffs after his conviction in his child sex abuse trial in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, June 22, 2012. A jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 out of 48 counts in his child sex abuse trial on Friday. He was sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in prison.
Ariel Castro: Pled guilty in connection with the abductions and abuse of three women.
Ariel Castro, 53, walks into the courtroom in Cleveland, Ohio July 26, 2013. Accused Cleveland kidnapper Castro agreed to plead guilty and serve life in prison without parole for the abduction and abuse of three women over about a decade. He later committed suicide.
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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.