- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The search team huddled around the photograph of the homeless woman panhandling at Tropicana Avenue and Jones Boulevard.

The picture gave them hope.

They studied the woman’s leathery skin and straight blond hair. Her narrow-set eyes hugged the bridge of a small, sloping nose hung above a pair of thin lips.

They glanced back at the pictures of a grinning 21-year-old Jessie Foster just before she went missing eight years ago in Las Vegas, then gasped. A lot can change in that time, but those lips, that nose - could it really be her?

“Oh, my lord,” Mary Borchers said.

“Yeah, we got to go down there,” Shannon Forsythe said.

Borchers is an advocate for sex-trafficking victims and a friend of Jessie’s mother, Glendene Grant.

Foster’s story in the documentary “Trafficked No More,” which was broadcast last month on several Las Vegas television stations, had brought in new tips about Foster’s possible whereabouts. But Grant, who lives in Kamloops, British Columbia, couldn’t follow up on all of the tips.

So on Feb. 16, Borchers traveled to Las Vegas from Los Angeles with Forsythe and members of her sex-trafficking victims’ assistance nonprofit group, Run 2 Rescue, to resume the search into a question no one has been able to answer since 2006: What happened to Jessie?

They dispatched 15 volunteers to pass out fliers Feb 17. It was then - when two volunteers had handed a flier to the homeless woman - that the photo had been taken. The woman didn’t say she was Jessie, but she said the missing person on the flier looked familiar.

That didn’t matter to Forsythe, founder of Run 2 Rescue. If Foster is in fact a sex-trafficking victim, she could have been afraid to admit her identity.

“We need to cut the meeting short,” Forsythe said to the waiting volunteers at East Vegas Christian Center.

They piled into a Ford Explorer and headed back to where the woman was.

Jessie vanished in 2006 from North Las Vegas.

In May 2005, she had come from Kamloops to the Las Vegas Valley. A month later, Jessie moved in with her boyfriend, Peter Todd - a man Jessie’s parents, Dwight Foster and Grant, barely knew.

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