Dianne Zoro had seen the girls along Pacific Highway South
The mother of four
daughters saw girls walking to the bus stop as she drove home from work to her
Federal Way apartment near 272nd Street nearly every day since she moved here.
She always felt bad for the girls who, for whatever reason, felt they needed to
sell their bodies for money. She envisioned the girls as young single mothers
with babies they couldn’t afford to feed. But she never paid much attention to
Until her 17-year-old
daughter went missing.
“I started driving that
stretch day and night and all of a sudden it struck me how many girls were out
there,” said Zoro, whose daughter Danica Childs disappeared from a Kent motel
associated with drugs and prostitution in December of 2007. “Then looking at
their faces and realizing that Danica was 17, but I was seeing girls who were
Zoro later learned that
her daughter’s boyfriend was a pimp and Danica was working as a prostitute.
During an event on Monday
morning, Zoro and three of her daughters were at Gordon Trucking in Pacific,
Wash., where company officials and members of the Washington State Patrol
unveiled a trucking trailer with a large poster of Danica on the side.
Gordon Trucking currently
has 100 trailers that feature posters of 21 missing children from Washington
and Oregon. The company’s fleet travels across the U.S. and in Canada, along
freeways, interstates and highways — like Pacific
“It’s weird to see her
face right there,” Zoro said when she saw her daughter’s face on the side of
Gordon Trucking, in
partnership with the state patrol and IMagic, highlighted the Homeward Bound
program with the addition of Danica’s poster to its fleet on Monday.
Renee Padgett, a trooper
who works in state patrol’s Commercial Vehicle division, came up with the idea
for the program in 2005.
“She worked as a
commercial vehicle enforcement trooper at the time and she thought if we can
get these posters out there, people are on the road every day, so what better
idea than to put pictures of missing kids on the side of trucks,” said Carri
Gordon, a manager in state patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons unit. The
unit identifies missing children who will be featured on Gordon Trucking’s
She said her unit
identified Danica for this program after one of the unit’s case workers spoke
with Zoro on a regular basis. Gordon said her unit considers several factors
when choosing missing children for this program, including parental support and
whether family members have quality photos of their loved ones.
“The hope is that this
will generate some leads on where Danica is,” Gordon said. “That’s the goal of
the program is to get her face out there, so that the public will know that
we’re still looking for her, that she has not been forgotten. We want those
phone calls to happen.”
Erik Anderson, director of
operations for Gordon Trucking, added that the company “hopes that we can bring
Danica’s oldest sister
Jasmin Johnson said she felt relieved to see her sister’s poster on the
“To know that it’s going
to go all around the country is a really good feeling,” Johnson said.
She recalled the day her
younger sister went missing. She hadn’t heard from Danica, so she called her
but didn’t get any response.
“That was unusual because
we usually kept in contact every day,” Johnson said. “So when she wasn’t
responding immediately my heart sunk because I felt that something was wrong.”
Zoro didn’t see her
daughter the day she disappeared, but she had spoken to her on the phone.
“I was on my way home from
work and we just had a conversation and she said she was coming home and she
was going to go Christmas shopping with all her sisters and her friends but she
just didn’t show up.”
Danica’s friends later
called Zoro and said they were concerned that they hadn’t heard from her.
Danica’s boyfriend, who she met on the bus, also called Zoro and said Danica
was with him at the Sunset Motel earlier that day. She left around 3 p.m. and
was supposed to come back with a friend who had a car to pick him up.
“But she never came back
and she left her coat and her purse,” Zoro said.
She figured out her
daughter’s voicemail password and listened to the sexually graphic messages
from clients, known as “johns.”
“Listening to them was
really hard because it was obvious that prostitution was involved,” Zoro said.
She said she believes her
daughter’s boyfriend sold Danica to somebody.
“Her friend eventually
told us that Danica had reported to her that she witnessed (her boyfriend)
selling another girl,” she said. “I never had any doubt that she left of her
own accord. There was just no reason for her to, boom, leave without contacting
Zoro said her family’s
biggest challenge has been coping with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and
the depression that comes with losing a loved one.
“We know nothing,” Johnson
said. “It’s like an indescribable feeling. If you loose someone and you know
what happened, at least you know. But when you have absolutely no idea is she
OK, was she murdered, is she in somebody’s basement, did somebody completely
brainwash her - the mystery is unreal.”
Zoro has worked with the
Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking since 2011, raising awareness and
educating the community about sex trafficking. Throughout the years, she has
learned that trafficking happens to students in Federal Way, including some who
attend Todd Beamer, Decatur, Federal Way high schools, and even some middle
“We learned that at
Federal Way High School for a while, girls were having roses delivered and then
the girls would be gone,” Zoro said. “So the school and police finally figured
out it was a signal. If they got a rose delivered, it was like they had a job.
That’s why we’re really interested in working in the schools to educate
students and teachers.”
She also hopes to raise
awareness in the Federal Way community that trafficking is a real issue and
kids don’t just run away because they’re bad kids, she added.
“She didn’t leave of her
own free will, and if she is able to come home now, she’s being held back by
fear, shame, embarrassment, things of that nature. But she wasn’t just being a