The Investigation of Missing & Exploited Children


The Investigation of Missing & Exploited Children
By Mark Gillespie, Saved In America Advisory Board Member
We tend to live our lives daily not realizing that at any given moment our world could be shattered – by a stray bullet, a traffic fatality, an assault or robbery or a missing loved one. Take the case of a missing child. Is the child missing due to child sex trafficking? In 2021, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received more than 17,200 reports of possible child sex trafficking from all 50 U.S. States, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.


Private investigators across the country routinely receive calls from families whose child is missing. Many of these investigators, with varying degrees of expertise and resources, know how to utilize social media and poster campaigns. Unfortunately, we run in to roadblocks due to lack of support and cooperation by local law enforcement agencies and limited resources. How do we become more successful in recovering missing children?

One PI that has dedicated many years to breaking the code to find missing and runaway children, is Texas Association of Licensed Investigators (TALI) member Joseph Travers from San Diego. In 2009, Joseph founded Saved In America (SIA), a California nonprofit organization comprised of 30 operators (former law enforcement officers, Navy SEALs and other military special operators) who have become licensed and insured private investigators and assist parents and law enforcement in locating missing, runaway and exploited children. In addition, SIA’s staff has a director of investigation, legal director, case manager, community outreach/events coordinator, law enforcement liaison, social networking investigator, licensed drone operators and state licensed firearms instructors.

Since their initial operation in December 2014, Saved In America has assisted parents and law enforcement with more than 270 child recovery cases nationwide. The approach and techniques used by Saved In America help guide the rest of the nation on how to stop child sex trafficking. Saved In America has taught its investigative techniques to the Human Smuggling & Trafficking Center, Washington, DC, licensed investigator associations in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama, and for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California.

Saved In America never charges parents/ guardians to find their children, it is a volunteer organization and they only use former Special Operators and law enforcement professionals who become licensed and insured private investigators.

SIA Investigative Process

Saved In America’s success can be attributed to their detailed investigative process which was created by Joseph Travers. Their cases are structured in 6 steps: R.E.S.C.U.E.

Step 1: RECORD




Step 5. UNITE


Follow-up Investigation and Civil / Criminal Prosecution

The Case Manager will continue to accumulate follow up intelligence to supply to law enforcement for criminal prosecution and to SIA attorneys for civil action.