Thursday, January 31, 2013
Family members of an eight-year-old boy are charges with child abuse. The tip came in from a local schoolteacher. That’s just one of the 1,400 cases the Wichita/Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit investigates each year.
Twenty-one detectives, officers and supervisors were holed up in the basement of the state office building. Their job: to protect our kids from some of the most shocking crimes imaginable.
EMCU officers Mike Nagy and Jerry Manuel are assigned to find runaways. The unit sees 1,400 cases each year.
“A lot of kids think if they run away from the problem it's going to fix itself and be resolved,” Nagy said. “But it makes it worse."
Nagy and Manuel were also called to assist with a registered sex offender suspected of breaking the rules.
"He's living where he's not registered to live at," Nagy said.
They found Bobby Prince, Jr. The former Wichita high school football star was at a home that was not the address where he was registered.
"I want to know the honest to God truth how many nights you stay here," Nagy said.
Prince, along with his father, was convicted of trafficking high school girls to Oklahoma in 2006 for sex. Prince, Jr. served his time and is not required to register.
After talking to neighbors, detective took a very unhappy Prince into custody.
In another case, EMCU Detective Daniel Oliver leaned of the possible abuse of a boy from a local school. Police took five kids into protective custody.
“Working on an abuse case, an eight-year-old boy,” he said. “It hadn't been for this teacher today, it could have gotten missed and lost in the shuffle."
Investigators suspect family members are abusing them.
We were allowed to sit in on the interrogation, but we’re not allowed to identify the suspect.
"If you are going to do the stand-up right thing, then you will tell me exactly what's going on,” Oliver said during the interrogation. “You're not being honest. What's going to happen is you're going to jail tonight, not mean you will get charged."
Police took two people into custody. For Oliver, it was a 15-hour day, and it wasn’t over.
"It's good to get to this point and even better to get to the district attorney," he said "Meeting with the DA and have the decision to charge is even more gratifying."
Each year, detectives get tips from across the state, the country and even internationally. Lt. Jeff Weible oversees at EMCU, a tough job given the psychological stresses on all his investigators. But in the end, he says it’s protecting a child that keeps them all going.
'You can go home at the end of the day with a sense that you protected a child from further abuse," he said.
Weible says it's a partnership between law enforcement and the department for children and families that provide counseling for kids and their parents. That makes EMCU successful, with a clearance rate of these cases at nearly 80%.