When a child of 12 or younger goes missing there are all types of services and laws for parents to use to help them find their child, but once they turn 13 all that changes, because then they fall into the category of runaway.
What is not being considered in this day and age is that teens are being lured away by individuals using social media. The level of sophistication in their attempts to persuade a teen to leave their home is consistent, calculated and clever. It is rarely seen as predatory.
Where there is an assumption that a child of 12 or younger would not run away, there is also the equal assumption that children 13 and up will run away, and is likely the cause of their disappearance. There is less of a sense of urgency with law enforcement as they know statistically most are not a victim of foul play and will return within a few weeks. The Dept. of Justice reports that 99.6 percent return. The Kid Search Network website states that 77 percent return with a week and 7 percent are away more than a month.
The mother of a missing teen, Kai Adana, who asked to be identified as such, is getting first-hand knowledge of this exact scenario, but she also has some extenuating circumstances surrounding Kai's disappearance that sets his case apart and should warrant a speedy solution.
Kai turned 13 only four months prior to his going missing in April. Thirteen is very young and a 13-year-old is not going to be able to live away from his parents without some type of help from someone. There is evidence that is what is happening in Kai's case as someone saw Kai with an older man that used to live in Kai's neighborhood.
Tracking down who that older man is should be an easy thing to do since someone recognized him. According to Kai's mother, the courts and police have his address, but won't reveal it. No word on whether they actually went to his house to look for Kai.
I spoke with Kai's mother on Wednesday about her missing son and this is what she had to say:
Kai's mother: We have been getting almost no help from police, mayor, etc. The Mayor says he can't help. Finally our family called the FBI, after no help, a month missing and two sightings with this man. I should say the man who we believe has our son.
Examiner: What man? Can you give out the name?
Kai's mother: I have been advised not to publish the name, as it might harm the case. I can tell you, he has two pending felonies in Solano County, and due for sentencing in September. He has a third charge - corruption of a minor - relating to our son. So this is very concrete, factual information.
Examiner: Do the police know about this man?
Kai's mother: The police have knowledge of this man and leads, but no manpower to pursue it. Every time I talk to them they tell us how busy they are with homicide cases. Once we called the FBI we were assigned a detective. This detective has taken those two leads we gave him and pretty much called it a day. We left repeated messages for the Chief of Police and City Manager and we got total silence. After I called the mayor in July, we received several 'disturbing' phone calls from a Vallejo Sergeant and a Lieutenant. Both calls were disturbing and suggested we were getting more services than the average person in Vallejo and to stop complaining. It was suggested I stop calling higher ups in police force, and reaching out to media.
Examiner: I heard that Kai disappeared before he was to testify as a witness in a criminal case. Was the criminal case having to do with the man that you believe Kai is with now?
Kai's mother: Before Kai's disappearance in April, he had gone missing in February. When he came home his hair was dyed black and he said he was staying with a guy in Oakland and on Mare Island. Later Kai received a subpoena to testify against that same man who was charged with a computer theft, which happened about the same time Kai was missing, so, yes, the man who he was supposed to testify against is who we definitely believe him to be with. A police report was made to the Vallejo Police Department of this incident by a neighbor.
Examiner: It would seem then that all that would have to be done is for the police to go to the man's home and check to see if Kai is there, but a story written by Mike Glodo for Missing Person News suggests the person of interest in Kai's case is "the offspring of a well connected political figure in Vallejo city government." Do you think this is why the police are moving slowly in bringing Kai home?
Kai's mother: This man's mother is very connected here, and this must be why a wall of silence pervades.
Examiner: What are the latest tips you have received?
Kai's mother: I received a message posted on Facebook on August 17th. The message the boy posted is still there on KaiAdana.MissingChild Facebook account from a former schoolmate of our son saying another teenager, who we know and who knows Kai, knew Kai to be with this man. The teen who knows the info is listed by first name also on the Facebook thread. The boy, told us that the teen had recently and several times seen Kai with this man. The boy was worried for Kai and decided to come forward and tell us. He said the man was doing a lot of illegal activities and involving Kai. I contacted him and talked to him. I called our detective team CFSI California/NOMAD. They talked to this boy on the phone and he confirmed the information. Then CFSI went out and talked to both the teen and her older brother. The girl was reluctant to speak much because she said she knew and was scared of this man. She said the man was on drugs and that human trafficking was involved.
Examiner: What did CFSI do with the information?
Kai's mother: The CFSI detectives contacted Vallejo Police Department right away with this. To this date they have refused to follow up and contact this teen and question her to find the information needed to locate Kai.
Examiner: Does anyone have any idea where Kai might be?
Kai's mother: An IP address that Kai last used to log into his Facebook and gmail account was on May 17 and it was traced to a residence linked to this man. Police confirmed the link to this man but would only say an associate. We asked if this meant a friend or family member. They said yes - friend or family, but would not elaborate or say which. They didn't bother completing the trace to the IP until mid-July. By the time they contacted the residence the man and Kai were no longer there.
Examiner: The man was suppose to show up in court. Did he?
Kai's mother: No. The man has had ongoing contact with the courts since then, though. His family is very wealthy and very well connected in politics here. They have hired him a good attorney. When he initially didn't show up to court a bench warrant was issued for him. I was told by the DA he later, sometime in June, he made contact via his lawyer with the courts. He was not re-arrested and a new court date was set for later in June. The lawyer asked for a continuance, which was granted. He was in court then in July, and our son Kai, who was to testify against him, is still missing. Subsequently, they are reducing the charges from two felony counts of burglary to just receiving stolen property. The original two counts could have given him 3-5 years in prison with our son's testimony. Without our son's testimony he is looking at maybe six months in county jail, but likely will just be probation. He is due back in court on September 16 for sentencing.
Examiner: What is your next step?
Kai's mother: We have engaged a private investigative agency. They are working on it, although it would have been wonderful and helpful if police had helped. We would probably have our son by now.
Kai Adana is only 13-years-old and has been missing from Vallejo, Calif. since April 21. According to the statistics, he should have been home by now. You can't help but wonder if he had been twelve, if all of this would have been handled differently.