(Des Moines, IA) — U.S. Marshals have returned seven missing children to Iowa. The effort was part of Operation Homecoming. The children, ages 4-to-17, were in nine states (Arizona, Nebraska, Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana). The U.S. Marshals Office says the children were at risk to drugs, child exploitation, and abuse. Marshals arrested two people, and seized drugs and guns during the effort. An additional 21-juveniles have been identified and those cases continue.
Both the northern and southern districts of Iowa worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Missing Persons Clearinghouse to look for and recover the children.
U.S. Marshals in Iowa are still looking for Fredrick Workman, 15, last seen in Des Moines in August 2013, and are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to his location.
Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to contact NCMEC at 1-800-843-5678 or visit their Cyber Tipline at www.missingkids.org.
“The goal of our involvement with missing child cases is not only to safely recover Iowa’s missing children, but also to aid our local and state partners who work these cases daily,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Scott Cannon, Missing Child Investigations Coordinator for the Southern District of Iowa. “The Marshals Service is uniquely suited to provide assistance based on our expertise as the premier agency in tracking fugitives. We can use some of the same skill sets in recovering missing children as we use during fugitive investigations.”
*Just before Christmas 2020, a missing central Iowa teen was found by deputy U.S. marshals in the home of an adult male in Ames. The man was arrested for harboring a juvenile runaway and implicated in sex trafficking. A second man was later charged based on the results of the USMS investigation and recovery efforts.
*U.S. Marshals in Iowa and Arizona worked to recover a child who had been missing since he was taken by a noncustodial family member in 2017. Now 4, this child had been relocated and hidden from law enforcement for years. The child’s legal guardian spent significant time and resources attempting to locate this child, to no avail. With the assistance of the U.S. Marshals and their partnership with state and local Authorities, the child was recovered and returned to their legal guardian in Iowa, bringing to close a case that has haunted local investigators and family members for years.
*In January 2021, U.S. Marshals in Illinois recovered a missing 14-year-old from central Iowa after investigators discovered ads featuring the juvenile involved in sex trafficking. The juvenile was recovered at a motel in the act of being trafficked. In 2020, another missing 17-year-old was taken from central Iowa and subjected to human trafficking in Mississippi and Tennessee. Marshals tracked her location to a home in Mississippi, where she was recovered and brought back to Iowa.
“For these kids on the run, life on the streets can be extremely dangerous and unforgiving” said Deputy Marshal Christopher Siemens, Missing Child Unit Liaison in the Northern District of Iowa. “Often they have no financial resources to sustain themselves, resulting in the selling of sex acts as a means to survive.”
“This operation is the first missing child operation by the U.S. Marshals Service in Iowa,” said U.S Marshal for the Northern District of Iowa Doug Strike. “Our message to missing children and their families remains, and to echo Director Washington’s vision for this mission, the U.S. Marshals here in Iowa will never stop looking for you.”
“The key to success, for these projects, involves a joint effort by public safety, working as ONE-entity with ONE-goal: Keeping our children safe through the apprehension of these critical offenders,” said U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Iowa Ted Kamatchus.
Nationwide, more than 50 local task forces are dedicated to violent crime reduction by locating and apprehending wanted criminals. These task forces also serve as investigation hubs for missing and exploited juveniles throughout the country. During Operation Homecoming, the Southern Iowa Fugitive Task Force and the Northern Iowa Fugitive Task Force fulfilled these roles, investigating missing juvenile cases alongside the following agencies: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, The Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Department of Human Services, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office, the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Ames Police Department, the Waterloo Police Department, the Des Moines Police Department, the Dubuque Police Department, the North Liberty Police Department, the Cresco Police Department, and the Fort Dodge Police Department.
(Photos from U.S. Marshals)