Mother looks to educate public about human trafficking after losing son

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Department of Health and Human Services says human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world.

Since the inception of Fierce Freedom's Altoona location in 2008, they have helped more than 50 people in the area affected by human trafficking.

"it's going to be affecting people from many walks of life, and some of the top locations that it happens at are going to be truck stops, hotels, online is a huge one,” said PR and Program Coordinator for Fierce Freedom, Cat Jacoby.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Debunking the Myths of Human Trafficking, was held in front of a crowd of just under 100 people at the Pablo center on Saturday.

The event featured local speakers, and first-hand accounts of those affected by human trafficking.

Lisa McCormick of Tomah is working with organizations like Fierce Freedom to help educate people about the signs after losing her child to trafficking.

"Three years ago, my son Jeffrey died of an overdose and was sex trafficked for a total amount of about four months,” McCormick said.

McCormick spoke to the audience about her son and how his traffickers manipulated him.

"The trafficker approached him and said, I know you're a minor, I can get you a job working for us and I'll get you a place to live, food, clothes, a new phone, jewelry, all the drugs you want if you come live with us and work with us,” she said.

After several months of trying to help her son, Lisa got a call from the Madison Police Department, with the worst news a parent can get.

"My son died in Madison on September 30, 2016 of a drug overdose,” McCormick said. “The toxicology report tells us that it was a heroin overdose laced with fentanyl."

Since then, McCormick has dedicated her life to helping to stop human trafficking in Wisconsin.

"Human trafficking happens in all 72 counties in the state of Wisconsin as well as well as every native American tribe. It's happening everywhere, we can't stop thinking of it as a Madison problem or a Milwaukee problem."