SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It’s a desperate plea from a grandmother who wants to know the whereabouts of her granddaughter.
Kandis Harris, 16, disappeared in July and has not been heard from since. There’s concern Harris who also goes by the name of Brooklyn, may be a victim of human trafficking.
That’s why Exitus, an advocacy group has joined with the family to help find her. Saturday, the organization will sponsor a “Find Kandis” event at Liberty Park.
“We have this outreach event on Saturday (Nov. 6) at Liberty Park at 10 a.m.,” said Amber Kehl, a spokesperson with Exitus. “We’re asking the community to come and support the family and let Kandis know she is not forgotten.”
Kandis’ grandmother is her legal guardian and recalled that day in July when she went missing.
“Kandis got over the fence and left the facility (Odyssey House),” said Diane Carpenter. “I have no idea where she left because in her frame of mind she was very depressed.”
Kandis was undergoing treatment at the Odyssey House. It’s not the first time she had been ordered to get help at places like Odyssey House.
“We were told it was a secure facility,” said Harrison.
But it wasn’t. Carpenter later learned it wasn’t secure and staff are not allowed to touch the teens who are living there. A spokesman from Odyssey House citing privacy regulations would not confirm whether Harris was even at the facility receiving treatment.
Carpenter did gather some of her belongings including a notebook that contained Kandis’ journal.
“(She was) claiming she really didn’t care if she lived or if she died,” said Carpenter. “She was in a very low place in her life.”
Her grandmother said Kandis used social media daily but since her disappearance, she hasn’t posted anything.
“Nobody has seen or heard from Kandis,” Carpenter said. “She has shown no activity on any social media accounts which that right there is a very big red flag.”
She recently learned of a possible sighting of Kandis on the 19th of July, four days after she left Odyssey House.
As far as she knows, Kandis is still in the area.
“I know she had left and was on the streets of Salt Lake,” Carpenter said.
Exitus, the human trafficking advocacy group, got involved in mid-August after learning Kandis could be a victim.
“Since picking up this case in the middle of August, we’ve had a couple of arrests of individuals,” Kehl said. “We do believe Kandis is a high-risk minor who has found herself in a situation where her ability to choose has been taken from her.”
Kehl would not go into details about why the organization believed Kandis was being trafficked.
Members of Exitus have been doing nightly searches for her as well as other victims of human trafficking. During a search Thursday night, they came across several men gathered outside a convenience store in Salt Lake City
“You’ve got a trafficker that brings the girls around,” said a member of the surveillance team. “(He’s telling them) which one do you want?”
Kandis was not there.
Exitus also posted flyers seeking information on her whereabouts.
The family is also offering a $2,000 reward for her safe return.
Saturday’s event will also include the release of 115 balloons, one for each day she has been missing. According to Carpenter, people can sponsor a balloon for $10. The money will go towards increasing the reward and paying for flyers.
Just in case Kandis or Brooklyn Harris is within earshot, her grandmother had a message for her.
“Kandis, you can come home,” she said. “We love you, we want you home. I promise if you come home we will work this out.”
A spokesman for Salt Lake City Police would not confirm the two arrests made according to Exitus. But the spokesperson said they are actively investigating Kandis’ whereabouts. Anyone with information can contact police.