HPD looks for runaway teen, no signs of human trafficking

15-year-old Hattiesburg runaway

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) — 15-year-old Marquez Bolton has yet to return home a month after running away from his grandmother’s house.

The Hattiesburg Police Department released a statement Tuesday morning saying they have not received any information that Bolton is involved in any sort of human trafficking at this time.

We spoke to family who say they believe social media is playing a part in this case.

“I had a friend that decided she wanted to run away from home and she was gone for a year and after that year she got into so much trouble, she was tied into so many drugs and she ended up being in jail for the rest of her life and she left home when she was 15,” said Bolton’s godmother, Pauline Love.

Love has seen first hand what happens when teens runaway from home, but this time it isn’t a friend, it’s her godson.

“He was getting into some trouble at school and his mother took his phone away and said he was spending spring break at his grandmothers house,” describes Love.

Although he hasn’t returned, she and local police departments look to bring awareness to parents to monitor their child’s social media accounts.

“You’re getting a lot of these kids selling and making stuff on social media but then you get kids that is using and abusing it as far as meeting people,” she said.

Jon Traxler with Hattiesburg Police Department said parents monitoring is apart of the job.

“Them checking your phone, knowing what’s going on, who your friends are limiting your activities that’s because they want you to be safe and that’s their main concern.”

Family members and HPD say in Bolton’s case, social media was the first place they went to look for leads, but it still hasn’t given them answers.

Love says even though Bolton doesn’t have a phone, he is able to login into his Facebook page simply by having access to WiFi.

“The good thing is that we know he’s logging in and out of the social media, the bad thing is that you just can’t catch it because again these kids are smart and they’re getting their friends to log on and so it throws off the location of where he could be.”

Traxler, a parent to two kids gives some advice when it comes to your child’s accounts.

“Parents know where they’re going, who their friends are, who their acquaintances are on Facebook or any other type of social media apps.”

Bolton was last seen Wednesday night in the Hattiesburg area.

This investigation is ongoing and if you have any information on his whereabouts, contact Hattiesburg Police Department at 601-544-7900 or Metro CrimeStoppers at 601-582-7867




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