DES MOINES, Iowa — Partnering with federal, state and local agencies, U.S. Marshals in Iowa located 21 missing children and directly recovered seven as of Tuesday.
The U.S. Marshals Service launched "Operation Homecoming" in October 2020 to focus on recovering vulnerable, critically missing children across the state of Iowa.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation's Missing Persons Clearing House worked with both the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa to look for and recover the children, who were all between the ages of four and 17.
U.S. Marshals are still looking for Fredrick Workman, 15, who was last seen in Des Moines in August 2013. A $5,000 reward is offered for information on his location.
Those with information about Workman are encouraged to contact NCMEC at 1-800-843-5678 or visit their cyber tipline.
“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.”
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, these children are "some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as exposure to narcotics, child exploitation, physical or sexual abuse, and medical or mental health conditions."
Some of these children were located in nine different states across the U.S., including Arizona, Nebraska, Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.
Marshals recovered a four-year-old from Arizona who was taken by a noncustodial family member in 2017. The child is now with family in Iowa.
In January 2021, marshals in Illinois recovered a missing 14-year-old from central Iowa after investigators found ads featuring the teen involved in sex trafficking. They were recovered from a motel "in the act of being trafficked," according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
“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.”
Authorities also recovered a 17-year-old who was taken from their central Iowa home in 2020 and subjected to human trafficking in Mississippi and Tennessee. They were found in a home in Mississippi and brought back to Iowa.
“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.”
Authorities arrested two people during the operation and seized illegal narcotics and two firearms.
Marshals arrested a man from Ames for harboring a juvenile runaway just before Christmas 2020. He was also implicated in sex trafficking. Another man was later charged based on the results of the investigation and recovery efforts.
Four independent human trafficking investigations opened as a result of the operation as well and were referred to the appropriate investigative agencies for further valuation, according to the U.S. Marshal Service.
Across the nation, more than 50 local task forces are dedicated to reducing violent crime by locating and apprehending wanted criminals. During this task force, the following agencies assisted in investigating these cases:
- 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
- Iowa Department of Public Safety
- Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
- Iowa Department of Human Services
- Linn County Sheriff’s Office
- Polk County Sheriff’s Office
- Howard County Sheriff’s Office
- Webster County Sheriff’s Office
- Cedar Rapids Police Department
- Ames Police Department
- Waterloo Police Department
- Des Moines Police Department
- Dubuque Police Department
- North Liberty Police Department
- Cresco Police Department
- Fort Dodge Police Department
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