BOWLING GREEN, OH (Toledo News Now) - The Ohio State Highway Patrol said human trafficking is a growing problem in the area and they need the public's help to fight it.
OSHP is a big organization with a big job: Patrolling the roadways of the entire state. But they cannot have eyes everywhere so they are asking for the public's help.
Interstates 75, 80, 280 and 475 are four roadways through the Buckeye State to the rest of the country for teens to slip through undetected in the grips of human trafficking. That could have been the case for two Kentucky teens, who troopers said were being held captive by truck driver Darien McKinley.
Officials said it was the observant nature of a caretaker at a rest stop on I-75 in Bowling Green that helped authorities put McKinley behind bars.
Lt. Laubacher said they need more people passing through to be watching out for things that seem out of the ordinary.
"This person has bruises. This person has marks on them. You know, the person they're with doesn't look like they should be with them," said Laubacher.
That caretaker trusted a gut instinct after noticing a visibly shaken teen who said she had just been released by McKinley after her and another girl were kidnapped in Kentucky. The girl also said the other teen was still with McKinley.
McKinley was arrested a short time later in Shelby County with the other teen with him.
Paul Stratton, who is traveling with his wife and granddaughter, said this particular situation has changed the way he views things on the road.
"Everybody has to be alert and aware, and willing to talk to an authority about something that's not quite right. And when you hear a story like that, it does increase your awareness of that," said Stratton.
Currently, McKinley is being held at the Wood County Jail.
A relative of McKinley said the entire incident is a misunderstanding. The woman is not identifying herself, but she claims the girls knew McKinley and called him all the time. She also said they were willingly riding with him. The relative went on to say the girls told him they were older than 18 years old.