EASTPOINTE, Mich. (WXYZ) — The family of a missing teenager says they’ve been getting a lot of tips from people who believe they’ve had possible sightings of her.
Zion Foster, 17, was last seen Tuesday, Jan. 4 when a cousin picked her up and took her to Detroit’s west side, her mom Ciera Milton said.
One of the tips the family received was that Zion was at a gas station near her last tracked location. But some tips have also come from people clearly trying to prey upon their desperation.
“They’re coming with information stating that they have my baby held hostage or that she’s going to be sold or she’s going be killed,” Milton said.
Milton says she just wants her daughter home safe.
But some elaborate text messages have been agonizing including one demanding money, claiming Zion is going to be taken to another state and threatening sex trafficking.
Milton says one tipster took information she posted online about her daughter and pretended to know it firsthand.
“I’m spastic, I’m desperate, I want my baby back,” Milton said. “I ended up giving $200.”
She says Detroit and Eastpointe police departments checked out a suspected location, but it was a dead end.
One tipster demanded $7,000.
7 Action News spoke with former FBI agent John Anthony on extortion attempts in these types of situations.
“It’s not all that unusual in this age of technology. The problem is how do you decipher the good from the bad?” former FBI agent John Anthony said. “If someone was truly helping, wanted to help to locate the missing person, that would be the last thing that they would do.”
As for missing person cases in general, Anthony says it’s been a growing trend.
“And it’s something that has to be looked at. It has to be treated seriously,” he said.
Milton says she’s been able to view her daughter’s phone records and conversations with the cousin, who claims he hasn’t seen her in a while.
“He was trying to talk to her and get with her and things like that. She’s underage, then I find out that drugs and things like that are also included in this. So, I don’t know what their lifestyle is. I don’t know what they’re about,” Milton said.
7 Action News spoke with a lieutenant with Eastpointe police twice on Tuesday.
He says he has three detectives on this case, including himself, as they look into another missing person case. He says they’re making this a top priority and are working with Detroit police.
If you have any information on Zion’s whereabouts, call Eastpointe police at 586-445-5100.