KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At age 12 authorities say Rosalynn McGinnis’ non-custodial stepfather, Henri Piette, removed her from an Oklahoma middle school without permission. She would not see her mother or siblings until nineteen years later.
41 Action News spoke exclusively with McGinnis, who said Piette would move the two of them constantly – mostly throughout Mexico. She said he would beat and rape her daily.
McGinnis had nine children with her captor beginning at age 15 prior to his arrest.
In early 2016, McGinnis and her children met a married couple while in Oaxaca, Mexico. That couple played a key role in encouraging McGinnis to escape her current situation and return to the U.S.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also helped McGinnis get away and assisted with arranging the family’s travel from Mexico to Kansas City, Missouri.
“Rosalynn is one of our heroes,” NCMEC’s Robert Lowery said. “When she escaped captivity in Mexico she wasn't only concerned for herself but concerned for her children.”
Lower is the Vice President of NCMEC’s Missing Children Division. He talked with 41 Action News from Washington, D.C. about McGinnis’ case, which he remembers well.
“I think we all know a 12-year-old doesn't disappear from her house on her own. The fact is that she was abducted and at 12 she can't consent to that,” Lowery said. “We are very proud to have been part of helping her get back to safety.”
Lowery said most children reported to NCMEC are recovered safely after a brief period of time.
“The numbers of long-term missing children are not nearly as many as we've experienced in the past,” Lowery said. “We've gotten much better at finding children and getting them returned.”
NCMEC provides parents important information about abduction, common tricks, and empowering messaging to share with their kids, including tricks individuals may use to abduct children.
THE OFFER TRICK: A child is offered something desirable — like candy, money, toys, or a ride.
THE ANIMAL TRICK: A cute or interesting animal is used to get the child to follow or enter a vehicle or home.
THE EMERGENCY TRICK: Someone fakes an emergency and offers to take the child to another location.
THE HELP TRICK: The child is asked to help with something such as directions, looking for a lost pet, or carrying something.
THE FRIEND TRICK: A person tells the child he or she has been sent by the child’s parent. Sometimes the person actually does know the parent.
THE ‘BAD’ CHILD TRICK: Someone accuses the child of doing something wrong and says the child must go with him or her.
THE FLATTERY/MODEL TRICK: Someone compliments the child and asks to take his or her picture. The person may promise the child fame or fortune.
THE OPEN-THE-DOOR TRICK: Someone tries to get the child to answer the door when the parents aren’t home.
NCMEC recommends parents review these tricks with their children and practice a response.
If you think you have seen a missing child, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 24-hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)
You can also use the CyberTipline to report child sexual exploitation. Reports may be made 24-hours a day, 7 days a week online at www.cybertipline.org .
If you or someone else are in immediate danger, please call 911 or your local police.
While McGinnis’ case is unique, Lowery said, “What we’ve found after what happened with Rosalynn is to never give up hope on these children and continue to look for them.”