LA SHERIFF’S DEPT. MEMBERS FIND AMBER ALERT BABY THROUGH INTER-BUREAU COLLABORATION & A TRAUMA-INFORMED INVESTIGATION
At 6:30a.m., this past Saturday, LA County sheriff’s deputies from the Lancaster station responded to a call that a woman had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and tortured near Lake LA in the hi-desert. The 40-year-old victim reportedly ran naked between 1-3 miles, and begged for help from residents in the first house she found.
When the deputies arrived on the scene, they were told that the suspect, an alleged pimp later ID’ed as 34-year-old Brandon Wynn, had also abducted the woman’s 13-month-old daughter. The woman, in an effort to protect her pimp (a symptom of what is called “trauma bonding”), gave the deputies false information about the suspect’s identity and his vehicle, that the officers then used in an Amber Alert.
The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau – Metro Detail received crucial help from the department’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit and the Special Victims Bureau to identify and understand the brutalized victim’s reasons for covering for her pimp.
In a press conference on Monday, LASD Major Crimes Captain Merrill Ladenheim described trauma bonding as an abuser’s isolation and manipulation of a vulnerable victim in order to control them, usually under the pretext of love or companionship. “Those bonds lead us to see, today, the lengths to which a victim will go to to protect her abuser.” said Captain Ladenheim.
Despite the false information, a confidential informant responded to the Amber Alert with valuable tips that helped investigating officers identify Wynn.
At 2:50p.m., patrolling deputies spotted Wynn and his car in Palmdale. During his arrest, Wynn told the officers of a shed where he had left the baby girl.
And by 3:00p.m., Sergeants Steven Owen and Gregory Kelly, and Deputy Daniel Gore, who raced to the identified location, found and rescued the 13-month-old, who had been left alone, strapped into a carseat, and was crying in the empty shed.
The baby has since been released from the Antelope Valley hospital where she was receiving treatment for dehydration, and is now safe and in the custody of the county’s Department of Children and Family Services, and “in good spirits.”
LA County’s historic rainy weekend likely kept the baby alive, until officers found her. If the Antelope Valley had been experiencing its usual triple digit weather, the baby would have almost certainly died in a hot shed.
The mother, described in the LASD press conference as “truly a victim in every facet,” had been severely beaten and was transported to Palmdale Regional Hospital, and will receive wrap-around services for victims of sex-trafficking through the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit.
Wynn and a 16-year-old boy who was with him were arrested on attempted murder charges.
“This case really showcases the impact of human trafficking within Los Angeles County,” Ladenheim continued. “And it’s really important to realize that many of these victims are children.”
According to the US Department of Justice the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14.
Ladenheim stressed the importance of having a “collaborative, victim-centered approach…led by a dedicated multi-jurisdictional force” of law enforcement agencies, social services, and community and faith-based groups.
Good Job LASD/ Lancaster station. You all are true hero’s and made us all very proud.