KILLEEN, Texas — A Killeen grandmother can breathe a sigh of relief after her 14-year-old granddaughter, who had been missing since December, returned was found Thursday.
Sherri Murphy said she thought her granddaughter, Sherri Barnes, was a sex trafficking victim. Killeen police reported Barnes as a missing person in November and then again in December.
She was found by members of the community and her family on Lake Rd. Thursday night. Barnes was taken to a treatment center.
Murphy said she’d spoken to her granddaughter since she’d been missing and there were signs that Barnes may have been in danger.
"She's got a long way to go. A lot of damage was done to her," Murphy said.
Murphy raised the teen since she was a child and was devastated when she went missing in November and again in December. Barnes' dog Roadie still cries out for the girl outside of her empty bedroom.
"He knows something is not right," Murphy said.
After Barnes was found, she was rushed to the hospital where her system was cleaned of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. She also lost a lot of weight because she wasn't being fed properly. Barnes is now staying in a treatment center where she will receive long term help after her experience.
Murphy said Barnes is not the same outgoing little girl anymore and that life will be different when she comes home.
"Every time she goes to check the mail I'm going to be scared that she might not come back. I'll probably never be right again," Murphy said.
Close to 80,000 children and 300,000 adults in Texas are impacted by human and sex trafficking. A Rose Program is a prevention organization in Bell County that said people can help lower these numbers by reporting suspicious activity and by letting victims know they'll have a safe place to go.
After fighting to find her granddaughter and getting her off the streets, this grandmother is now vowing to do everything she can to keep it that way.
"I am one of those grandmamas that don't stop. I'm there for them when they're doing good and I walk them where they need to go when they're doing bad too. And if I can't help them I'll take them to somebody that can," Murphy said.