17-year-old trafficking victim found murdered
Some of you may have heard about the tragic stabbing of Aubreyanna Parks, a college-bound 17-year-old girl. Please continue to pray for the family as they mourn this incredible loss.
One of our care team members has been in contact with the family and will be delivering a care package to them this week along with a financial donation. If you would like to contribute to this, you can donate here and put “Parks Memorial” in the comments section.
Aubreyanna’s story illuminates the need for us to think thoroughly about how we can develop strategies that adequately protect trafficking victims that are placed in programs that are alternatives to jail.
BY SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, DOUG IRVING AND GREG HARDESTY / STAFF WRITERS
YORBA LINDA – This was not the way the life of Aubreyanna Sade Parks was supposed to end.
The 17-year-old found stabbed to death in Yorba Linda this week was set to start college at Northern Arizona University in the fall.
A former cheerleader at Peary Middle School in Gardena with a love for softball, Parks was taking college-prep classes at Middle College High School in Los Angeles and, according to her godmother, aspired to be a lawyer.
But Tuesday morning, authorities found Parks more than 30 miles away from home, lying partially on a grassy curb of a Yorba Linda street lined with multimillion-dollar homes.
Fully clothed and without ID, she had been stabbed multiple times in the upper torso.
A suspect, Larry Soo Shin, 35, is being held without bail in county jail on suspicion of murder while lying in wait. Thursday, a judge carried over his arraignment to Feb. 28.
The portrait beginning to emerge of a girl taking steps toward higher education clashes sharply with the life Parks apparently was living in the days leading up to her death.
A week before the early-morning attack, she had been reported missing.
And Thursday, law enforcement officials said she had been taken into custody in Santa Ana on Jan. 24 during a prostitution sting.
While details of what led to the fatal confrontation that has shaken a Yorba Linda neighborhood remain unclear, loved ones of Parks said they were trying to piece together the teenager’s last days – and square their image of her with her recent run-in with Santa Ana police.
“My baby wasn’t a prostitute,” Mantonette McKinney, Park’s mother, said. “It’s not what we instilled in her.”
Parks and two women were taken into custody by members of the Santa Ana police vice unit during a regular crackdown, Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
Parks, Bertagna said, was detained while walking in the area of Harbor Boulevard. She was not arrested or charged with prostitution. Following an investigation, police arrested Marsalis Joseph Smith, 26, from the Los Angeles area, on suspicion of human trafficking.
Because Parks is a minor, she was taken to a shelter in Orange County after being detained Jan. 24. Sometime between Jan. 24 and Jan. 28, however, she walked out of the shelter, law enforcement officials said.
McKinney said she had been in contact with her daughter after Santa Ana police detained her, but said the teenager was afraid to come home.
“There’s something that occurred that she was afraid to tell us,” McKinney said in an interview.
The circumstances of Parks’ death may touch on a recent debate in Orange County about how minors suspected of prostitution should be treated by the criminal justice process. Are they victims of abuse or juvenile delinquents, and should they be locked up for their own protection?
Minors involved in prostitution are often runaways, and walk-outs from shelters are routine. Officials worry simply releasing them puts them back on the streets or in the hands of pimps.