San Antonio based Clear Channel Outdoor today began a statewide program designed to generate leads in the cases of the thousands of children who are missing in Texas.
The San Antonio campaign focuses on Mariah Garcia, who disappeared three years ago at the age of 15. Despite a call shortly after her disappearance to her family telling them she was 'fine,' there has been no sighting of Mariah since then.
"This little girl went missing over three years ago, and to this day, we have no leads, no clues about where she may be," Police Chief Bill McManus said.
Clear Channel Outdoor President Luis de la Torre says digital billboards featuring Mariah and information on how to send tips to police on her whereabouts will appear around the city.
"Today more than 40,000 children are missing in Texas," she said. "We as a community need to talk about this issue."
Experts say many if not most of the missing teens are actually lured from their homes and have left voluntarily, mainly due to a bad home situation or an argument with a parent makes them open to claims by a smooth adult that they can offer them 'excitement,' 'glamour,' or even an understanding voice. Then, many of the kids are trafficked, either for labor or sex.
McManus says he doesn't know if that is the situation with Mariah.
De La Torre says the campaign is focusing on missing kids statewide.
"There are cases in El Paso, Dallas, and Houston being recognized today and featured, and also being recognized for the month to try to get those phones to ring," he said.