DISCOVERY CHANNEL's 'Kidnap and Rescue' featuring Ty Ritter and Project Child Save:
Warning: Graphic Content
Mirrored from Natural Child World Magazine, Relationship Issue #17, Spring 2014
Carrying a faded machete scar across his face, Ty Ritter hosts more bullet wounds than any man should. Ritter is tough in ways that make even brave men flinch. Cornered-dog tough, ruthless enough to stare death in the eye and wait for it to back down, a fellow who takes a bullet and merely sneers at the wound, the kind of tough that the world's criminals simply don't understand. He is the man you want to go into battle with. For Ritter, however, resolve was never a goal, merely a consequence of life.
Thirty years ago, Ritter was working executive security when a friend asked him to help find his daughter who'd been kidnapped. He was fortunate enough to locate and rescue her before any malevolence occurred. That was Ritter's introduction into what he considers the darkest place on Earth, sexual slavery. Annually, tens of thousands of children are taken, disappearing from major cities, populated suburbs, and small towns. At present, the market is willing to pay up to $100,000 for a blond-haired, blue-eyed child - it used to be $17,000 - but traffickers target all ethnicities. Humanity's depravity is not limited to certain colors or wealth, and as difficult as it is to hear, no one is safe.
THE DARKEST PLACE ON EARTH
'In just a handful of Los Angeles counties, four hundred children disappear annually.' -Los Angeles Bureau of Statistics. Originally from the United States, these girls range in age from three to fourteen years old. Their days used to consist of playgrounds and classrooms, their young lives filled with ambition, joy and imagination - And then victimization brought life's cruel reality. Over a seven-month period, they'd all been kidnapped, stolen from various cities throughout the U.S., gone without a trace. Their families emptied their bank accounts, built search parties, gave press conferences, checked in hourly with the police, and suffered the guilt and pain of not being able to protect their virginal daughters. With each passing week, they stared at the empty seats beside the dinner table, growing more despondent and less hopeful, eventually falling into a numb acceptance that their children may never be returned to their arms.
Each girl suffered a similar fate. A scream-stifling weathered hand wrapped strongly across her mouth, her eyes blindfolded with thick, dark black cotton, her hands yanked harshly behind her back and lashed together with duct tape. Until she yelled, they left her mouth unblemished, fearing a bleeding lip or a broken tooth might make her less valuable to her next owners. At times, she recoiled from the callous hands upon her shoulders. Hearing the first desperate shriek, they applied a small needle into her arm, turning her virtually catatonic for the remainder of the journey. She maintained her wits and senses, acutely aware of her circumstances, yet unable to make a sound.
When the girls awoke, it was in the claws of another individual, of Spanish descent, surrounded by green jungle, and chained to the wooden slats of a free standing cabin in the middle of nowhere. The men were dark, bare-chested, often wearing rough beards, and soaked through to the bone with their own perspiration. The chains themselves were black iron, a single cuff attached to one ankle, and unless one had the self-cannibalizing desire of a trapped coyote, virtually inescapable.
The first time was always delicate, but horrible - children are not made for violation -spending their first night in tears, physically exhausted and hurt, emotionally destroyed, and wondering how this happened. There were no beds to run to, no parents to crawl between, and here, the monsters did not hide in closets. Repeated violations were a regular occurrence, the sweaty masculine beasts shoving them roughly up against the wall, the brutal thrusting and tearing of their tiny bodies mixed with the aggressive grunting and hot breath of unrestrained animals. At night, when the men slept, the tears rolled quietly for fear of awaking their predators. As the months wore on, they'd become objects, and the men didn't bother being delicate. The girls sat in stark terror, dreading each minute of their crumbling lives, awaiting the inevitable pain and torture and desecration of their very selves, with no hope for escape and no opportunity to take their own lives. 'In 1982 a reported 154,341 were trafficked for sex. By 2000, the number was 876,213.' - US Justice Department
A CALL TO ACTION
Back in America, Ritter had heard the stories of the South American drug runners and their sex-slave trade. He'd witnessed a young girl, courageously escape the clutches of traffickers and make the decisive journey across many borders to arrive back to her family's doorstep, bruised, beaten and battered, to live a post-traumatic life of guilt and remembrance and wonder at what might have been. Ritter visited that girl, and listened closely to her descriptions of the wretched jungle life she lived for six months. He'd seen the unreturned look in her eyes, as though her body had made it home but her soul was still there - as if she'd left her spirit in the jungle to provide hope for the other victims. To know there are children being destroyed while their parents suffer the indignity of not being able to help them, drove Ritter to start Project Child Save.
On the first rescue mission, Ritter took six girls from their captors. When he and his team arrived in the middle of the night, camouflaged in fatigues, green face paint and boots, they were carrying twelve-inch corrugated steel knives. After quick medical attention, the men got out, returning to the U.S. to begin the process of reuniting the girls with their families. Repatriation took time. One does not take a wounded animal from the jungle into suburbia without incident. Psychologists worked slowly, delicately restoring trust and courage and some semblance of humanity to the children. They started with puppies and furry stuffed animals. They listened to the haunted cries echoing through the night. Doctors spent hours performing vaginal repairs, straightening broken bones, redefining lips and teeth and violated rear-ends, but some scars never heal.
Over the next thirty years, Ritter would undertake many rescue missions with one rule, 'Never leave a child behind.' Lack of funding is a consistent source of frustration Ritter explains, 'We've rescued over five-hundred children. At present, we have thousands of emails from desperate parents around the world asking us to recover children. We have intelligence indicating the locations of many of these children, however, we require airplane fuel, tactical gear, and training for each operation.The moment we have enough money for a recovery operation, our team gets on a plane. For thirty years, this has been our creed - To be willing to give all of our tomorrows for one child's today.' To date, although there had been occasions when Ritter was tempted to take their successes and go, he upheld that promise to himself and his team, and most importantly, to the children.
Many years ago, Ritter buried his son and it is the one wound in his body that will never heal. He is a father and a man who understands loss, as well as a hero, silently performing duties few Americans would ever consider, taking no credit, no money, and no reward for his acts, aside from the personal satisfaction that comes from keeping the promise he made to a brave little girl long ago.
Ty Ritter interviewed by George McQuade III:
Hollywood stunt man and retired Marine featured in incredible true documentary 'Kidnap & Rescue' posted March 4, 2013 by Examiner.com
A new study released this week by the National Center for Young Law finds child sex traffickers target California foster children and now state officials plan to act immediately to improve protection. This comes as no surprise to retired U.S. Marine Ty Ritter, who with his volunteer squad of Navy Seals, Green Beret and Marine Recon Special Forces team retrieves child victims from all over the world.
“ We rescue children, who have been kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery,” explained Founder Ty Ritter, PROJECT CHILD SAVE. “A few years ago, I was working for a high profile individual when his friend’s daughter was kidnapped and I got very, very lucky and brought her back. But I couldn’t have done without our team, they make me look good,” he said. “That’s how we got started.”
“Unlike the way we parents grew up, it’s a whole new world out there and parents need to take extra precaution with their children,” explained Ritter, who insists the Internet has made it easier for child snatching. “Don’t close the door when your child is Online, and those Nanny Nets don’t work.”
The new report on child stealing was authored by Fellow and Attorney Kate Walker, at the NationalCenter said, 'Every day, the unthinkable happens: thousands of America's children are coerced into performing sex for hire.
“Exploitation can start as young as age ten,” she said “Some exploited children are brutally beaten and raped. Others are isolated, drugged,and starved until they become ‘willing’ participants. Yet, these children are regularly arrested and held in juvenile detention facilities even though they are victims of crime.”
Four of the report's key recommendations highlight the urgent need for:
1. Safe, secure and specialized homes for exploited children and children at risk 2. New screening tools to help professionals working with children identify both victims and children at risk 3. Special training for 'child serving professionals and systems to identify and support vulnerable individuals 4. Increased data collection and information sharing to promote collaboration across systems and raise public awareness
The report offers several solutions of expediting response time, protection and agency collaboration. The Report will be presented at the Child Welfare Council's quarterly meeting on March 6th at the Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco.
Project Child Save is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping prevent child abductions and kidnapping through education and public awarenesscampaigns. Ritter's incredible true story has been featured on the Discovery Channel.
“When these heinous acts are perpetrated against our children, Project Child Save, through it's international network, finds these abducted innocents who have been taken against their will and sold into slavery, and retrieves them, returning them to their loved ones,' said Ritter
Every year thousands of children are taken from their homes and sold into sexual slavery. Most of these children are teens or pre-teens, and few ever make it back to their families. Ritter said the reason is simple - money. “Slavery is a lucrative business, and the cost of rescuing abductees is beyond the means of most. Average families can't afford these costs, so they remain helpless as their loss overshadows the rest of their lives. We leave no child behind, and it’s usually more than one, too.” For Ty and his nonprofit visit: ProjectChildSave.org.
Ritter, a Burbank, CA native, is the youngest of three boys. His Dad was a rancher and a camera technician/electrician, who worked for most of the motion picture studios, but primarily for RKO and Republic. His mother was a nurse who became a housewife.
Ty began his military duty as a junior Drill Instructor and soon after he was assigned to the 1st FSR (1st Force Service Regiment Marine Corps Unit) and sent to Vietnam. In Vietnam, Ty bodyguarded dignitaries, couriers and high ranking officers. Ty returned to civilian life and worked for a Las Vegas casino owner. He also did flat track motorcycle racing at Ascot and worked on and off with Bud Ekins. With the help of Steve McQueen (a regular at Ekins' motorcycle shop), Ritter began stunt work. He has received the prestigious Lifetime Appreciation Award from the City of Hope for his devotion to the safety and recovery of children.
Ty started his own bodyguarding business specializing in high risk bodyguarding cases where clients had been subjected to death threats and attempted assassinations. Ty's bodyguarding work has taken him all over the world. 'When I'm on a recovery, it's when I really feel alive.' Ritter has received the prestigious Lifetime Appreciation Award from the City of Hope for his devotion to the safety and recovery of children. For more about Ty Ritter and how you get involved visit:
Ty founded Project Child Save, a 501c3 non-profit organization, which is dedicated to the prevention of child abduction through public awareness campaigns (Ritter lectures, has published'My Body Is My Own', a complete child protection handbook. He has been a guest on Dr. Phil, Rita Cosby, and Geraldo to name a few talking about finding and rescuing kidnapped children, who have been sold into sexual slavery. Ritter and his elite team have conducted countless missions. To date, his organization has rescued more than 300 children, worldwide, each extraction executed with stealth, safely and successfully.