U.S. Marshals locate 25 children missing in metro Detroit

Posted at 6:31 AM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 08:24:00-04

(WXYZ) — Lauren Sowell is living the life she dreamed. A mother and social worker who is happy and safe. But her journey to get there was riddled with obstacles few will understand.

"Actually, nobody looked for me. I was invisible,” Lauren said.

Lauren ran away from her foster grandparents' home at 14. A predator found her, got her addicted to heroin and sex trafficked her for seven years in Highland Park.

"It took him being killed for me to escape and be free and to get my identity back," Sowell said.

The journey to freedom has begun for 25 missing kids across metro Detroit who were found thanks to the efforts of U.S. Marshals.

"The operation was titled operation 'We Will Find You'," Deputy Robert Watson said.

He says their mission ran from March until mid-May. In their mission, they located children here locally and found children all the way in New Zealand.

"Those are kids we physically had to remove from a situation. They could have been victims of online enticement, sex trafficking, parental kidnapping," Watson said.

Lauren says being found is the first step in a long healing journey. She says she's willing to lend a hand to help guide those victims along the way.

"Victims only stay victims when they don't have voices, but when they have voices and people like legislation and people like law enforcement actually fighting for them and giving them what they need, they go from victim to survivor. And being a survivor is a beautiful thing," Lauren said.