Sex-Trafficking Victim, 15, Takes Her Own Life After Being Rescued: 'We Got Her Back Damaged'
Leticia "Letty" Serrano was sold to sex traffickers at just 13 years old
A Texas teenager’s life was tragically cut short after she died by suicide just two years after she was rescued from a sex trafficking ring. She was 15.
The family of Leticia “Letty” Serrano says the young girl just couldn’t recover from the time she spent drugged up in captivity by the man who kidnapped her, her loved ones told local outlet ABC13.
Letty was sold to sex traffickers at just 13 years old, according to the outlet.
While Letty’s family was able to rescue her after finding her near Moody Park in Houston, she was never the same.
“We got her back damaged,” Letty’s grandmother Cynthia Rivera told ABC13.
Her family explained to Fox 26 Houston that Letty even ran away from home twice to be with her kidnapper.
“She was a good student, good grades, quiet, kind of a loner, and her brother had just passed. She was a perfect target for them,” Rivera explained to Fox 26 Houston.
On Saturday, Letty, who celebrated her quinceanera in May, locked herself in the bathroom of her home and took her own life.
Her father Mariano Serrano found her, he told Fox 26 Houston. “She died in my arms.”
“She wanted to be with him,” Serrano said of Letty’s kidnapper. “But, she also didn’t want to hurt her family.”
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As Serrano copes with the death of his daughter, he explained to Fox 26 Houston that he wants justice.
“I want to see him in court,” Serrano told the outlet. “I want to tell him it’s his fault my daughter his dead.”
Letty’s grandmother also wants answers.
Rivera has since launched a fundraiser for Letty in hopes of raising awareness about the prevalence of sex trafficking.
“Letty went through a horrific abduction in 2017 through a man who drugged her and trafficked her. With help of our community I was able to find her,” Rivera said on the Facebook page. “When we got her back she was already broken and addicted at that point — the road to recovery was and is one of the hardest things for any child to overcome.”
Rivera explained that Letty’s kidnapper was arrested and put in jail for three days only to be released. He allegedly went on to abduct another 13-year-old.
“I ask you [to] help us and that her death does not go in vain. No news media. We as a community and the system failed this young lady and her family once, let’s not do it again.”
Commander Jim Dale with the Houston Police Department Vice Division has since revealed that Letty’s abduction case will be reopened following the news of her death, he told Fox 26 Houston.
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“I have requested an interview with my investigators so we can reopen the case,” he told Fox 26 Houston. “She was a victim and somehow her cries fell through the cracks and I think that’s why it’s so imperative that we get schools involved.”
Rivera is also calling for schools to take action. She told Fox 26 Houston that Marshall Middle School officials, where Letty attended, to discuss a way to ensure that what happened to her granddaughter doesn’t happen to anyone else.
In addition, Rivera is also asking her city council district to make sure people are not able to occupy abandoned homes and buildings like the one where Letty was trafficked.
“Houston [needs] to come together and ask or these houses to be removed, torn down,” Rivera told Fox 26 Houston.
The Houston Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.