This is Jessie Foster. She is a beautiful Canadian girl who worked at Boston Pizza in Kamloops, BC before moving to Calgary to live with her father in 2005. She met a man at a party who had an extra ticket to Florida, and Jessie took the bait despite warnings from her family. After arriving in Ft. Lauderdale the man told her she had to “repay him” by being sold for sex. Jessie was moved to New York, Atlantic City, and finally Las Vegas.
On March 24th, 2006, Jessie called her mom from Las Vegas, telling her she wanted to come home and would try to back in Canada by Easter. It was the last time Glendene Grant heard her daughter’s voice. Easter came and went. A private investigator discovered that a man was offering Jessie for sale through escort ads in Las Vegas. He was the last person to see her alive.
Since then Glendene has done everything in her power to locate her daughter. Jessie has been profiled on America’s Most Wanted and posters like this one have been widely distributed. As published in Benjamin Perrin’s Invisible Chains, here is a letter Jessie’s mother wrote in an effort to get a message out to her daughter:
My sweet, dear, wonderful Jessie…
Hi baby, this is Mom. I just wanted to let you know how much I miss you and how hard we are working to find you and bring you home. I know how scared you must be and how worried you are about us worrying about you. With all my heart and soul I feel you are alive and out there, somewhere, needing to be found and rescued. We will do that.
Jessie, I also want you to know that we know what you have been through. We know what was happening in Vegas. Do not blame yourself or think you need to be forgiven for anything. You are a victim, even if you think you could have left, you were not able to – you being a victim of human trafficking is proof of that. You were trying to come home to Canada and someone stopped you…I have missed two of your birthdays and a lot of other special occasions and holidays…you have such a strong, huge support system, Jess. Your friends all miss you and are so worried and supportive to us.
Jessie, remember…we will find you, love Mom xoxoxoxoxo
I had the honour of recently meeting Glendene and asking her about her experience. Here is what she had to say.
What is the hardest part about losing Jessie?
Not knowing. That is the hardest part. When Jessie went missing I entered into the family that no one wants to be in, and that’s the family of missing loved ones. But that’s also the family where you will get the most love and support from anywhere.
What do you love about Jessie?
Jessie is the most beautiful, sassiest, spunkiest person you can meet. People thought she was a boy until she grew up to be a knockout. She can swear and burp and spit – she’s an everything girl – the kind of person everyone wants to be friends with. Jessie was not a prostitute wannabe, she is not a drug addict, or someone who would abandon her family. She is fun-loving, had tons of friends…she danced and worked and lived life.
What are some warning signs to watch out for?
It’s a tough call. If it seems too good to be true it is…the phone calls, the control someone has over you. I made a list of what a person who cares for you would and would not do. Jessie thought she could handle herself, and when you are 21 no one can tell you what to do.
What was it like when she first went missing?
The night Jessie went missing, the phone rang and my other daughter was calling me on a friend’s phone who happened to have a Las Vegas 702 area code. All I heard was screaming and yelling and I thought it was Jessie calling for help, and my daughter was screaming, “no mom, it’s not Jessie, it’s Crystal.” We never heard from Jessie after that.
How do you feel about Jessie being mentioned in Benjamin Perrin’s book?
Invisible Chains is such an ironic book for Jessie to be in. When she first went missing I was told not everyone is behind a locked door. So I got this picture in my head that helped me, one in which Jessie was sitting on a beach somewhere with a mai tai in her hand – she is still trafficked and can’t phone – but at least she is in the fresh air and not in a basement behind a locked door. Benjamin Perrin came up with the term “invisible chains” but I had been thinking about that already before I even met him.
When Jessie went missing I had no control, no choice. That is why I am making these choice now because I can. I couldn’t choose to have a kid go missing but I can definitely do everything from there on. I can make that choice.
If you could send out one message out to our readers, what would it be?
Listen to Jessie’s story, does any of it resonate with you? Look at the faces of the missing. Look at the people you pass on the street.
Thanks Glendene for sharing your heart with us. We support you in your search for Jessie wait for the day we can celebrate her rescue with you. For those of you who want to learn more about Jessie’s story, check out www.jessiefoster.ca and M.A.T.H. (Mothers Against Trafficking Humans). Let’s bring this girl home!