A heartbroken family is mourning the loss of a 15-year-old girl who took her own life after she became a victim of sex trafficking, according to reports.
Before Letty Serrano was drugged and sold to sex traffickers at the age of 13, she was a “great girl” and a “good student” who “loved her puppies,” her grandmother, Cynthia Rivera told ABC 13.
However, when she was finally reunited with her family, she was never the same again.
“We got her back damaged,” Rivera said.
Just less than two years on, in the early hours Saturday, Oct. 12, she locked herself in the bathroom and took her own life, and her family believes it was because she was a victim of sex trafficking.
The teen’s father, Mariano Serrano, is devastated by Letty’s death and told the news outlet he felt he had let her down.
“She died in my arms,” Serrano told Fox 26.
He told the news outlet his daughter wanted to be with the man who trafficked her at the age of 13, but also “didn’t want to hurt her family.”
The teen was first reported missing on Dec. 19, 2017, in Houston, Texas, and was located six days later, according to Texas EquuSearch.
According to her grandmother, she was vulnerable at the time of her disappearance, as her brother had just passed away recently.
“She was a good student, good grades, quiet, kind of a loner, and her brother had just passed. She was a perfect target for them,” Rivera told Fox 26.
Her family said she was taken to a place near Marshall Middle School in North Houston by her the man who trafficked her. However, they believe he didn’t work alone.
“We were able to locate her and call HPD and have this animal arrested,” Rivera added.
Rivera said her granddaughter was found in an abandoned house which was filled with “mattresses, little girls’ bras, chemicals they use to drugs to mix with.”
The man was released after just a few days, and since Letty returned home, she had run away twice to be with him, the family told Fox 26.
Commander Jim Dale of the Houston Police Department Vice Division said he is looking to reopen the case and is urging schools to do more in terms of training.
“She was a victim and somehow her cries fell through the cracks and I think that’s why it’s so imperative that we get the schools involved,” he said.
According to figures cited by ECPAT USA, about 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery on any given day in 2016, with over one million of those being children in “forced sexual exploitation.”
If you or someone you may know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect someone who know is a victim, contact the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.