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Saving Jonah Rief: Prayer Vigils Held for Stolen Chidlren

by Human Rights Watch
Jonah Rief has become the poster child for human trafficking. Prayer vigils have been held over the past week across the U.S. and elsewhere for the safe return of Jonah Rief to his mother Tammy.
It was a nightmare scenario. A four year old boy had a nightmare and told his mother, "The bad people are coming. The bad people are coming." Tammy Rief's biggest regret was that she did not realize the danger her son was in.

In 2012, human traffickers stalked and later stole Ms. Rief's son. A man known as Brian Sullivan, though he had many aliases, had pretended to be the Tammy's husband. He found a rogue California officer who helped him raid houses and remove people from Alabama and North Carolina. Tammy has never been married and the man was not related to Jonah in any way. After Jonah was taken, Tammy went to Washington D.C. enlisted the aid of state department officials and Senator Sessions from Alabama. But her efforts were later cut short when she herself was taken and held prisoner for 91 days without any information on what was going on or why she had been taken.

It has been learned that Jonah was taken to California and trafficked to Australia. On February 26, 2013, Jonah entered Australia under a fake passport that had the false last name of Sullivan. A woman accompanying Brian, known as Denise Glasier AKA Denise Sullivan AKA Sara Francis. has pretended to be Jonah's mother. The couple has also used fake first names for Jonah. However, it is believed that these two are middlemen who arranged for taking and transporting the children to their buyers. After Jonah was trafficked, nude photos of the boy went up on a Facebook page belonging to Sara Francis. Close to 200,000 hits on the page has indicated to human trafficking experts that the pictures were used as part of a sales operation. It is not known to whom the boy was sold or where he was taken but Feds and members of Congress have promised to look into the matter.

Prior to Jonah's abduction, he lived with Tammy in Alabama. Sullivan was seen by neighbors lying in wait near the Rief residence and watching the house. He frightened Tammy by letting her know he was more familiar with her ancestry than even she was.

Traffickers normally study their victims in advance in an effort to obtain targets who will provide them with a strong monetary return for their efforts. Tammy and Jonah had obtained a protective order against Sullivan after he uploaded fake internet videos, including one with information on how to get to the boy's Alabama home, an apparent solicitation for assistance in abducting the boy. Neighbors say that the problem was that nobody could have prepared for the measures taken by the traffickers. Parents, particularly single mothers, are being told that they need to take care to make sure their children don't meet a similar fate.

Janet Slate, who knew Tammy from when she worked in movies, said she was the most loving mother she had ever seen. "If it could happen to Tammy, it could happen to anyone. I hope Jonah can recover from what those horrible people did to him." Janet participated in one of the rallies in support of Jonah last week. She encourages everyone who loves children to do likewise. "If we don't stop this problem now,with Jonah, no child will be safe," she adds.

For additional information check out these stories.

Jonah Rief -- Trafficked to Terrorists

Jonah Rief: One of Many Cases Cloaked in Secrecy

Saving Jonah:Is Your Child at Risk for Court Licensed Torture and Sex Trafficking?

Madonna, Watch Your Back: Single Mothers and their Kids at Risk from Child Traffickers

Human trafficking — American Style: Straight from the Courts to Nations Across the Globe

Though his appearance is believed to have changed, supporters of the Save Jonah movement ask that people look at these pictures of Jonah, including a young one with his mother Tammy, to see if they have information that can assist in bringing the boy home. Jonah is now six and probably looks different as traffickers often change the appearance of their victims.

by Human Rights Watch
by Human Rights Watch
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