Angelic “Anji” Tracy Dean, who had been missing from her home in Camas since June 23, was found July 9 thanks to a tip from a woman living four states away.
According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Dean, 17, was located by detectives at Clackamas Town Center in Happy Valley, Ore., approximately 18 miles from Camas. The Vancouver Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted with the investigation.
“Anji was contacted by detectives within the mall,” said a press release. “She was interviewed and then reunited with her family in Clark County.”
In a phone interview with the Post-Record Monday, Major Crimes Unit Sgt. Kevin Allais confirmed that investigators received a tip from a woman in Minnesota, who was familiar with the nationally reported case and saw a Facebook post made by a teenager in Clackamas County.
The teen said he had met Dean at Barton Park and had been tubing down the Clackamas River with her on July 6. Dean told him she was heading to Forest Grove, Ore.
Allais said the two had exchanged phone numbers. Dean called him and said she was interested in spending more time with him. He declined, saying he was busy.
CCSO detectives arranged to meet him at a park in Clackamas County, and asked him to call Dean and arrange another meeting. It took place at the Barnes and Noble bookstore at Clackamas Town Center. That’s when CCSO detectives contacted Dean.
“She cooperated,” Allais said. “We took her to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and talked to her there.”
Allais said Dean is a victim of sex trafficking. He declined to release any additional details surrounding her disappearance.
“It’s still part of an active investigation,” he said.
He said the boy Dean met in Clackamas County is not suspected of having any involvement in her disappearance.
“He was responsible for facilitating her return,” Allais said. “He did the right thing.”
On the “Help Find Anji’ Facebook page, Dean’s parents, Terry and Lynda Jorgensen, thanked the many people and organizations that assisted with the “rescue” of their daughter.
“For now, we thank the media, the public and the thousands of people that helped us bring our daughter home,” the post reads. “We especially thank NWCAVE and the Sheriff’s Office for working together, and in 16 days we were able to save [and] find our daughter.”
The Jorgensens said Dean is currently receiving counseling at a shelter that specializes in working with exploited youth.
“We ask the public to respect our privacy now as we get the much needed help for our daughter,” they wrote. “Thank you to the resources provided to us. Anji is safe and will get the services needed to overcome this nightmare she has been dealing with the past few months and she is now in a safe place while the investigation continues.”
During the week before she was located, media outlets across the nation reported on Dean’s disappearance. News stories posted on the internet were viewed and shared by thousands. Law enforcement received nearly 150 phone tips, as well as others through social media.
“It is clear that the local and national news coverage, as well as the wide spread sharing of this family’s story via social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, was integral in leading us to her safe return,” Allais said.
On Monday, Allais appealed to those who have recently been on social media sites posting comments critical of Dean to “have compassion.”
“Unfortunately, people don’t know the whole story,” he said. “If they did, they would see she is a victim and they would have some compassion. If it was my daughter, I would be pretty upset about some of the comments people are making.”
Dean, who will be a senior at Camas High School in the fall, reportedly walked away from her west Camas home June 23, between 9 and 10:30 p.m. Her mother discovered she was missing at approximately 10:40 p.m.
Dean left behind several items of importance including her prescription eyeglasses, bank cards, makeup and clothes, and cell phone, as well as some medications. She had no history of running away from home, Lynda Jorgensen said.
In the days after Dean’s disappearance, her parents found an ominous journal entry in a spiral notebook hidden under her bed. It said in part, “If you are reading this, I’m either missing or dead.”
The day she went missing, Dean sent her boyfriend text messages saying she was in danger, and that people had threatened to kill him and her family.
NWCAVE, the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation Against Women, worked with the family throughout the ordeal at the request of the Sheriff’s Office.
The non-profit organization’s founder, Michelle Bart, said human sex trafficking is a serious issue.
“This problem has reached epidemic proportions,” she said. “It’s not just overseas. It’s right here in our own backyard. There’s plenty of great agencies on the front line of this, but there’s more of the criminals than there are of the good people. The only way we are going to keep this from happening in the next century is prevention and awareness. That’s what we believe in. We can’t take it lightly. We need to all open our eyes. This isn’t a pretty topic that people want to talk about.”
For more information about the issues surrounding juvenile sex trafficking, visit www.clark.wa.gov/juvenile/programs/dmst.html.