COLUMBUS, Ga (WRBL) – The rape and death of Kamarie Holland, 5, sent shockwaves through our community.
The little girl was reported missing on December 13, 2021, by her mother. After her body was found, Jeremy Williams, 37, was charged with capital murder in Russell County. Court documents obtained by News Three allege that on the day Kristy Siple, 35, reported her child missing, she sold the child to Williams in exchange for money. Neither Williams nor Siple has been convicted in this case.
“Familial trafficking I think is one of the hardest things for people to wrap their brain around,” said Bobbi Starr, Executive Director, Micah’s Promise.
Bobbi Starr is the Executive Director of Micah’s Promise. It’s an agency that seeks to restore childhoods stolen by sex traffickers. 25 percent of trafficking in Georgia is facilitated by family members.
“And of the family facilitated trafficking, mothers play a role in 25 percent of that. Fathers play a role in 13 percent,” said Starr.
58 percent are other family members, not always blood. Starr says trafficking can be fueled by poverty, drugs, and gangs. A history with the Department of Family and Children services can be a tip off.
“Have there been previous calls for neglect, sexual abuse? Does the mom have drug and alcohol issues? Is it a single parent household as well as if you know that a child lives in the home bur the child is never coming outside to play or they used to come outside and now they don’t come out any more,” said Starr.
The average age of a victim is 13, but statistics show in the state of Georgia when a mother is involved, the average age is five.
The old adage ‘see something say something’ still stands says Assistant Police Chief Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick. She says if your gut tells you something is amiss, take pics. If you come across child porn, do not send it to police, that’s illegal, let police retrieve it. She encourages neighbors to be on the lookout for malnourished children, and other signs.
“If you see a lot of foot traffic in and out all times of the night, of course drug usage, and different cars coming, picking up people, dropping people off,” said Columbus Police Department Assistant Chief Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick.
Victims of sex trafficking can be male and female children as well as men and women. Starr says it’s happening in hotels and motels, strip clubs and homes. She says it’s important to erase the stigma attached to runaways. They could be running away from an abusive situation. She says it’s also important to not view the victims as prostitutes. She says the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell case helped change that perception. Now she says let’s go after the buyers.
“They can be a professional, they can be a youth pastor, I mean it could be anybody,” said Starr.
They rationalize that going after younger victims shields them from sexually transmitted diseases. Starr says last year 26 kids were identified as victims of sex traffickers in our area.
Micah’s Promise gets its name from the scripture found in Micah Chapter 6, verse 8 where the Lord requires his people to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly”.
The Girls Rise Academy is slated to open in September of 2022.
To report what you suspect is sex trafficking, call 911 or the National Trafficking Hotline Number at 1-888-373-7888.
For more information about sex trafficking: https://www.ncptf.org/
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