Retired biomedical engineer bikes across country to battle Child Abuse
Headlines illustrate the Tri-State area’s struggle with child abuse and neglect:
“Hedgesville woman placed on probation in scalding death of her child.”
“Hagerstown man sentenced to 20 years in birthday cake beating death.”
Larry Heyn said he couldn’t stand along the sidelines and say nothing when children are abused.
The retired biomedical engineer is riding his bike across the country to bring attention to child abuse. Heyn estimated that he talks to about 15 people a day about the problem and refers them to his website at shieldthechildren.com to learn more.
The 67-year-old Minneapolis man departed Mission Bay in San Diego on April 7 and anticipates reaching Washington, D.C., this week. Heyn neared the Tri-State area biking on the Great Allegheny Passage, then getting on the C&O Canal.
Heyn left the Paw Paw, W.Va., area Monday morning and made his way through Hancock before reaching the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport Monday afternoon.
While Heyn rides, his wife Debi drives a used Winnebago that Heyn refers to as his “sag wagon”.
Debi takes care of the laundry, cooking and making reservations at campgrounds. Larry helps people understand all of the different types of child abuse, whether it’s forced labor or a mother abusing alcohol while she’s pregnant.
Heyn said its troubling the way children are treated, such as the frustrated mother who screams at her child in the grocery store and says she wishes the youngster were never born.
“A lot of this abuse that goes on doesn’t have to go on,” Heyn said.
Heyn and his wife were planning to stay at an area campground Monday night.
AG Paxton’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit Reaches New Milestone with
10,000 Total Arrests
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today commended the Fugitive Apprehension Unit of his office for reaching a major milestone since its inception in 2003.
Earlier this week, the unit – working jointly with the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force – achieved its 10,000th arrest with the capture of 43-year-old Juan Gabriel Herrera.
The undocumented illegal immigrant from Mexico was wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony.
“This major milestone is a testament to our Fugitive Apprehension Unit’s hard work and dedication. These courageous law enforcement officers have successfully arrested 10,000 fugitives and provided invaluable protection for Texans,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I am proud of the bravery and valor they demonstrate every day while keeping Texas strong, safe and just.”
Among the arrests made by the Fugitive Apprehension Unit are 29 dangerous criminals on the Texas DPS Top Ten Most Wanted List.
The Fugitive Apprehension Unit includes 22 investigators, three criminal analysts, two administrative assistants and a five-person command staff who operate in regional offices in Austin, Houston and Arlington.
The unit’s mission is to locate and arrest violent fugitives, convicted child sex offenders who violate conditions of their parole, and to arrest sex offenders who fail to comply with the state’s mandated sex offender registration requirements. It also assists in locating missing and endangered runaway children reported by local law enforcement agencies to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Veterans Group Discovers Possible
Underground Child Trafficking Camp
Members of a veteran’s advocacy group believe they have discovered a hidden child-trafficking camp in Arizona.
Last month, Veterans on Patrol, a group that helps homeless veterans, were searching for veterans in need near Interstate 19 in Tucson when they came across what looked like an underground bunker. According to KGUN-9, they also found a baby crib, stroller, hair dye, wrist restraints, crates, and pornographic material.
The group contacted local authorities who said while they are not ruling out the possibility that this site was used for human trafficking, they believe the bunker is most likely an abandoned homeless camp.
Veterans on Patrol shared what they discovered with former Navy SEAL Craig Sawyer, who founded Veterans for Child Rescue, a faith-based organization that fights human trafficking. He went to the site and shot footage of what he found.
“The underground bunker is a septic tank and it’s turned on its side and it’s buried partially underground,” Sawyer told CBN News. “It looked cruel and inhumane.. like a place where you would put children so people don’t hear them scream.”
In the bunker he found a chain, children’s clothing, and toy dolls among other things.
While he admits his suspicions of human trafficking could be wrong, he does not believe the site is an abandoned homeless camp like local police suggest.
“I can’t imagine seeing any homeless people putting their children in there willingly. It just does not seem like a hospitable shelter,” he explained.
Sawyer and his team also found a grove of trees nearby with “numerous straps to latch or bind” something or someone to them. If this is indeed a trafficking ring, he believes children could have been tied to the trees and assaulted.
Sawyer says the combination of what appears to be “rape trees” and an underground septic tank with children’s clothes in it leads him to believe children were being trafficked here.
While it’s too early to tell who could be behind the alleged trafficking camp, Sawyer says the location could give some clues.
“MS-13 or the Mexican drug cartel would be my first two guesses,” he explained. The site is located right next to Interstate 19, which runs all the way to Mexico.
Whatever the truth behind this site may be, Sawyer says he will continue to glorify Christ by fighting those who wish to do children harm.
“This is the frontline between good and evil,” he shared, adding that the Church needs to be on the forefront of the battle against human trafficking.
According to Tucson News Now, the local police department is now investigating the veterans group’s discovery.
The statistics are shocking. According to Victims of Crime, a website with national statistics on child abuse, one-in-five girls, and one-in-twenty boys, are victims of sexual abuse.
“These numbers are incorrect, the actual statistics are: Child rape occurs every two minutes. 1 in 3 girls will be sexually molested before the age 17, and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age 17 (1 in 5 in Canada). A sex offender will molest an average of 120 victims, most of whom do not report it, and 90% of molesters abuse children they know.”
“What we learned and what I personally learned is once you start talking about it, once you actually get somebody not to be hush-hush and quiet and talk about it then you realize they know somebody who knows somebody,” says Oasis, the executive producer of the documentary.
The idea for the documentary was born from Wanda Martin Palmer, the founder of #ProtectOurGirlsCampaign.
Wanda says she and her daughter were victimized by the same person, prompting her to create the campaign, which she now uses to give resources and information to other victims.
“She’s going to make sure that it goes to the highest level as it can possibly go,” says Javenna Smith Myrieckes, director of the film.
End The Silence, which centers around Palmer, brings out a series of emotions, from anger to sadness.
“A couple of the young ladies have such extreme experiences that what makes it difficult for them to go on is that some of the predators and violators are still in their family structure,” said Javenna. “And then, I start to find out about their victories and their healing, and I actually start to get a little afraid. Because it’s a subject matter that not everyone wants to avoid and ignore.”
The hope is this film will accomplish its two main goals. To show victims that there are ways to get the help they need, and to begin the conversation, a conversation long overdue.
“It’s not going to be the perfect discussion, it’s uncomfortable. But it’s necessary,” said Javenna.
End The Silence will premiere at the Black Diamond Lounge in Fruitland on August 24, and again at the Senator Theater in Baltimore on August 30.
You can find out more information at endthesilencedocumentary.com.