Family and community leaders pleaded for help Friday in solving the disappearance of a young mother whom authorities believe was a victim of human trafficking.
Ruthey Smith, 20, was last seen in the area of Figueroa and 70th streets in South Los Angeles, an area known for prostitution, on March 2, 2022, authorities said.
Smith’s family acknowledges that she had been working as a prostitute for quite some time.
“We know the stigma that surrounds sex work which ultimately hindered the investigation, but these women are human and they deserve to be looked for,” Kathryn Smith, her mother, said at a news conference in South L.A.
Smith was born in San Pedro and was raised in Long Beach. Her family told the Long Beach Post that she became a teen mother at the age of 16 and turned to sex work to make ends meet.
Days before she vanished, she told her parents that she had a feeling she would be abducted, but she went to work anyway, the Post reported.
Long Beach police confirmed that they are treating Smith’s disappearance as a human trafficking case.
“She would never abandon my granddaughter, her child. She would never miss birthdays or holidays with us family,” her mother said.
Smith is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 120 pounds.
Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Gabriel Garrido with the LBPD Missing Persons Detail at 562-570-7246 or police dispatch at 562-435-6711. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may submit a tip through LA Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).