Mom tracks down teen daughter missing for a month after video of her being assaulted goes viral
Armoni Chambers, a 16-year-old girl from Milwaukee who had been believed to be the victim of child sex trafficking ring was finally found after a manhunt on social media
A 16-year-old girl from Milwaukee who had been believed to be the victim of child sex trafficking ring was finally found in Chicago after a manhunt started on social media. The girl, Armoni Chambers, had been missing for more than a month. Bonnie Bruno, the girl's mother, along with Tory Lowe, an activist, finally managed to track her down after they saw a video that has since been deleted from Facebook showing the minor being assaulted by an unknown man. Bruno said that Chambers ran away from home to go meet a man whom she had assumed was her boyfriend.
The frantic mother also said that the people who had shared the video were men in a group that sold her daughter into sex slavery and that they beat and drugged her to stop her from escaping.
Bruno spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 29 and said: "Her entire time in Chicago was trauma after trauma after trauma. She was afraid. She thought she was going to die." The mother has given permission to all media outlets to use her daughter's name and photos so that it can raise awareness with other parents who may go through something similar, the Daily Mail reported.
The 16-year-old had been reported missing by her mother on May 17. She begged the police in Milwaukee to classify her daughter's disappearance as "critical" because she had many concerns about her mental health. The police then told the public about Chambers' disappearance almost a month later, June 18, and said that she is probably in one area of West Milwaukee that is famous for prostitution. This made the mother believe that her daughter was a victim of sex trafficking.
Right after the announcement was made, a man came forward with the news that he had seen the teen on a bus heading for Chicago. CCTV footage that was taken on May 25 from a Greyhound bus station confirmed the unidentified man's story.
Bruno said: "The trip to Chicago, someone lured her there from social media, told her they were someone that they weren't." It is still not clear how Chambers met the man online and how long she was in contact with him before she went to meet him.
Chambers had used a phone to call her father from a convenience store when she was in Chicago. Although he did not pick up at the time, he called the number back and got the address from an employee there. He immediately passed along the information to the authorities. Bruno, on the other hand, was getting more and more irritated by the lack of action on the part of the police so he decided to do something about it.
She reached out to Tory Lowe who is a local Milwaukee activist with more than 50,000 followers on Facebook and who regularly posts on the social media site about missing people. Lowe has estimated that he has helped at least 130 missing people reunite with their families over the years. The two of them went to Chicago on June 25 to try and find Chambers.
Lowe posted a live video on Facebook showing them canvassing the area where it was believed that Chambers was last seen. They got very lucky when they came across a Family Dollar cashier who remembered seeing the teen in the store. The CCTV footage from the store showed Chambers with her hair cut short. Lowe told the Journal Sentinel: "Now we know this is her; we don't have to guess. She was there and you could see her walking off."
More and more people started joining in on the manhunt after Bruno and Lowe collected more information on where Chambers could possibly be. Notable activists Vera Giles Norris, Martin G. Johnson, and Natorah El also started streaming live on their channels as the search for the missing teen continued. Lowe said: 'It's starting to become bigger all through Chicago and all through Milwaukee. We're putting this information out there and starting to get tips."
An unidentified person posted a video on Facebook on June 25 that showed the teen, who looks like she had been drugged, being paraded around a home with on a leash which was around her neck. She was also seen to be inappropriately touched by a man in a backyard of a house while another man was taking the video. Lowe said: "The online community was in full effect after that went live. It was only a matter of time before she was found."
The many activists involved in the search managed to track down the origin of the video and told the authorities immediately. The police then went to the location and found the teen who was taken to a nearby hospital where she was reunited with her mother. The two of them went home to Milwaukee on June 28. Bruno said that even though she felt the Milwaukee police failed to do their job right, she was relieved to have her daughter back. Speaking of the department, she said: "They really dropped the ball on this one."
The grateful mother thanked everyone who made the effort to help with the search on social media and said that she wanted to share the traumatizing story with other parents in the hopes of raising awareness. She said: "My message for any parent who has a missing child is don't give up." Lowe then said: "When we jumped in the car, we didn't know what was going to happen. The fact we were able to bring her home and she's with her mom — I can't even. Words can't explain it."
The Chicago PD is currently investigating the video showing the abuse the teen went through.