LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A search for a missing Lehigh Acres teen spans across state lines. Nehemiah Garcia has been missing since January. Now, law enforcement all the way in Washington D.C. have joined in the search.
The last time Arrie Robinson saw her grandson Nehemiah Garcia was January 4th. They had just had an argument about their dog. According to an incident report filed with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Garcia told her he had been called into work.
Dressed in his Popeyes uniform, he got in the car with a co-worker his grandmother didn’t know. He worked at the Popeyes on Lee Blvd. in Lehigh Acres.
Since his disappearance, Garcia has been registered on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website.
Cassie Lahmann is a human trafficking specialist with Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. (ACT), a facility that supports victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. While there’s no concrete evidence of human trafficking in Garcia’s case, she says the signs are there.
“The fact that he left with only his uniform is pretty suspicious - that he didn’t pack anything else. He wasn’t planning on going anywhere it seems,” she said.
She pointed out the most recent data by Polaris, showing there were 896 human trafficking cases in Florida in 2019. She says that’s only counting the cases that were reported.
Lee County deputies had no luck getting ahold of Garcia by phone. But, they did ping his cellphone, locating it in two different areas in Washington D.C. Robinson told deputies she doesn’t know anyone that he would know in D.C.
“Going to like a Metropolitan city, Washington D.C. where he doesn’t know anyone is a pretty big red flag,” said Lahmann.
The report hints at the last conversation he had with his sister. He sent her a video of himself via Snapchat, saying he was “okay.”
According to the report, on January 5th, the day after he went missing, he called Robinson asking for his driver’s license, debit card and birth certificate, but he never returned home to pick them up.
Lahmann says when in doubt, pick up the phone and call the national human trafficking hotline.
“if you’re really not sure, just calling that hotline, getting someone on the phone, who is a master in this subject who has been working with lots of other cases. They’re going to be able to help you,” she said.
If you suspect someone is being held against their will, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Lahmann also mentioned ACT offers free and confidential counseling for people who may be affected by a human trafficking situation.
Selah Freedom also has resources for survivors of human trafficking, and those affected by it.