ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Mich. – The U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit successfully located a critically endangered 14-year-old girl in Port Huron Tuesday, more than a year after she was reported missing.
The girl was reported missing in September 2021 by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy United States Marshal Robert Watson with the Eastern District of Michigan said his office was referred the case Tuesday (Feb. 7) and successfully located and recovered the girl within hours.
“Information was that she may be being trafficked,” said Watson. “There was some evidence of sexual abuse and the belief that she was pregnant and in danger. She’d been missing since September 2021, so I got the case (Tuesday), began working on it immediately, and we recovered her about 5:30 that same day.”
When asked why it took so long for the case to be referred to his office, Watson said many times local police departments don’t know these resources exist.
“We want to get the word out there. We are an option,” Watson said. “We are very good and locating fugitives, but we are also very good at locating missing and endangered children. So, it’s a win for everybody. We’re a force multiplier for some of these departments that don’t have the manpower or can’t devote the resources to look for these children.”
Watson said the teen was located inside a closet of a home on the south side of Port Huron. When asked about the missing teen, Watson said the homeowners denied that she was there and provided false information.
Watson’s team obtained a search warrant to enter the residence and locate the girl, who was several months pregnant. She was taken to the hospital for an exam before being reunited with her father.
The missing teen told law enforcement she had been at the house one night and had previously been bouncing around between Port Huron and Detroit.
Watson said locating missing children is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
“Sometimes I break down in tears when I find these kids because it means a lot,” he said. “I’m a parent myself, and I can’t imagine if I were in one of these folks’ shoes and I didn’t know where my kids were.”