Investigator specializes in finding missing, runaway children

Image 1 of 6

If a child is missing, and possibly in danger, time is of the essence. One woman is on a mission to make sure the missing don't stay that way for long.

Robin Lattimer Hammond is the missing child specialist with Eckerd Connects. She uses technology, old-fashioned footwork, and compassion to bring kids home safely.

"Convenience stores, I hit a lot of them. Gas stations, laundromats," Hammond described of the places she goes to hang fliers or talk to community members about missing children.

Hammond knows the habits of foster kids who run away or go missing.

"A lot of the times they're putting themselves in danger if they're just out running the streets, especially the young ladies that get involved in human trafficking," explained Hammond. "Usually, I post about 15 to 20 flyers so I'll hit 15 to 20 spots. Somebody will say something like 'Oh my gosh, I know that kid,' or 'I've seen that girl before,' and we get all sorts of weird little tips."

Sometimes those pieces of paper - and pieces of information - are enough to bring them back.

"Some of the kids will actually say, 'I came back because I got tired of seeing my flyers out there,'" said Hammond.

But oftentimes, she has to lean on social media.

"I can just program their number in my phone and get their Instagram, their Snapchat, and then all I got to do is friend-request them or follow them. Sometimes they'll put locations as to where they are," said Hammond.

Runaways don't typically gain a lot of sympathies, but they do with Hammond.

"They think that the kid is just making the choice to take off and they're not realizing the kids that are in the system that are running away, they already have traumatic things that have happened to them," said Hammond.

She has a stack of flyers representing the kids she's found over the last six months.

"I save the flyers because I have all my little notes and all my little weird stuff on there to remind me of where they go if they run again but some of them don't run again which is good," said Hammond.

While Robin is relieved to see her diligence pay off, more flyers go up as more kids go missing.

"Someone has to be the one who is trying to find them, talk to them, do anything to get them going in the right direction because they've had so much trauma. They just need one person to connect with. That's usually all it takes," added Hammond.