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2022 Florida Missing Children's Day Award Winners

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Missing and Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse (MEPIC) accepts nominations for the Florida Missing Children's Day (FMCD) Award Ceremony. FMCD features a formal awards ceremony in which we recognize citizens, law enforcement officers, and K9 trailing teams for their exemplary efforts when investigating missing persons. During the ceremony, law enforcement officers, child heroes, and others are recognized for acting to rescue missing children or prevent abductions. Below are the 2022 FMCD Award Winners. Please join us in recognizing their exemplary efforts in missing person issues and human trafficking. 

 You can watch previous Florida Missing Children's Day ceremonies via video by clicking here

 

Commissioner's Award

Mr. Cass. Castillo Assistant Statewide Prosecutor When remains are never recovered, cases can be very difficult to prosecute, but where others decline, Cass Castillo meets this challenge head on. Representing lost women and children, his efforts resulted in the successful conviction of two Florida serial killers despite the homicide victims’ remains never being found.

Evelyn Williams Memorial Award

Investigator Kevin Allen Alachua County Sheriff's Office Kevin Allen investigates missing children and adults, unidentified human remains and unsolved homicides. He was the lead investigator in two cases that resulted in the convictions of two serial killers, one case involving children. He has also spent countless hours working to identify unidentified remains, locating missing persons or their remains, and working leads in multiple cold cases.

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Florida Highway Patrol Troop A The Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop A, in the Florida Panhandle, demonstrates outstanding dedication in keeping children safe. From reducing the response time to calls regarding missing and endangered children to off-duty assistance to the direct recovery of missing children and human trafficking victims, Troop A demonstrates a commitment to protecting children and investigating suspects who would do them harm.

Law Enforcement Task Force of the Year

Polk County Sheriff's Office Task Force A Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigation revealed two males were sexually abusing their children who were all under the age of 12. This team’s efforts resulted in multiple charges against four people. The two male suspects were arrested for child pornography, lewd or lascivious molestation, capital sexual battery of a child, use of a child in sexual performance, and promoting sexual performance by a child.

Jimmy Ryce K-9 Trailing Team of the Year

Deputy Jarvey Mesina-Berman & K9 Ryley Broward County Sheriff's Office Deputy Mesina-Berman and K-9 Ryley responded to a report of a missing juvenile with autism. The team tracked the juvenile for approximately a mile and a half before K-9 Ryley indicated the juvenile turned and crossed an eight-lane roadway with a large center median. The pair continued tracking the child and found the juvenile near an auto repair business.

Combatting Human Trafficking Award

Detectives Zoila Exclusa & Ingrid Ruiz North Miami Beach PD Detectives Exclusa and Ruiz were called to investigate a missing 15-year-old female who met someone online. The juvenile left willingly with an unidentified male. The next day, the juvenile called her mother crying before her phone was turned off. The detectives flew to Pennsylvania to escort the victim back to Florida. The juvenile was reunited with her mother within 72 hours.

State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award

Trooper David Cox Florida Highway Patrol While patrolling Trooper Cox received a BOLO for a vehicle involved in the abduction of a 5-month-old child. The suspect was reportedly armed and possibly leaving Florida. Trooper Cox located the vehicle at a gas station attempting to refuel. In an unmarked vehicle, he pulled up to the gas pump behind the suspect’s vehicle and arrested the suspect. His actions avoided a high-speed car chase and the child was recovered safely.

Local Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award

Agent Aja Stake Brevard County Sheriff's Office Agent Stake received a cybertip indicating a Brevard County man was abusing his 5-year-old daughter to produce and share images and videos of child sexual abuse. Agent Stake immediately determined the child was in a safe location and then obtained the father’s confession regarding the sexual abuse and the distribution of child sexual abuse material on social media platforms. This resulted in the fathers arrest within 5 hours of the tip.

Bus Operator & Aide of the Year

Ms. Stacey Kelly & Ms. Artavia Mann Miami-Dade County Schools Ms. Kelly finished dropping off her last student for the day on her assigned route when she saw a toddler standing alone in the street with no shoes. Ms. Mann stopped the bus immediately and retrieved the child. After parking in a safe location, the two women started looking around for someone that was searching for a toddler. No one was immediately located, and they contacted 911. These two women ensured the safety of this child.

Citizen of the Year

Ms. Robin Hudak Tampa Bay Regional Communications Center The Communications Center received a phone call regarding a non-custodial parental abducting three children without authorization. When it was discovered the children were on I-75 heading north, Duty Officer Hudak immediately contacted all available units to respond and issued a BOLO. When the suspect’s vehicle left the jurisdiction, she stayed on the line with the family to assist law enforcement. Which resulted in a successful recovery.

Poster Contest Winner

Ms. Hailey - "I created this poster because every child deserves to be home with their loving family."

Essay Contest Winner

Ms. Arie Essay title: "This is How I Stay Safe All Day"

Young Hero Award

Ms. Alyssa was waiting at her school bus stop near her house when an adult male approached her, grabbed her at knife point, and began dragging her toward his vehicle. She fought back and was able to escape home. Her mother called 911 immediately. The entire incident was caught on video. Because of Ms. Alyssa's bravery in the face of danger she saved herself.

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