Vernon County sheriff: Suspicious activity, no missing children in Amish community

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Vernon and Monroe county sheriffs are investigating complaints of suspicious activity; however, Vernon County Sheriff John Spears emphasized that no children are missing.

Spears said both agencies have taken reports of suspicious incidents and vehicles in the Amish community near Cashton and Ontario and the majority have been a misunderstanding.

“We want to be clear that there have been NO reports of Amish children that have been taken or are missing from our area,” Spears wrote in a statement.

There is one incident still under investigation in Vernon County, he said. At just after 4 p.m. Sept. 11, a woman in her 50s or 60s with bluish hair, driving a tan or brown four-door sedan, and a male passenger stopped and spoke with some Amish children and someone in the vehicle asked if they wanted a ride.

The children fled into a nearby field and the vehicle left, according to authorities. The vehicle and occupants have not been identified.

“We always encourage vigilance of your surroundings and, as these children did, to remove yourself from any situation in which you feel unsafe,” Spears said.

Spears encouraged people who see suspicious vehicles or people to immediately report it to law enforcement and obtain as much information as possible to share a vehicle description and description of suspicious people.

Spears also noted that while human trafficking is a major problem across the nation — including in Wisconsin — it rarely starts with children snatched from homes, a parking lot of the side of the road.

“This idea is perpetuated by Hollywood movies but, the truth is, most human traffickers use psychological means such as manipulations, fraud, threats, or promises to exploit their victims,” he said.

For more information, visit humantraffickinghotline.org. Victims of human trafficking are encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.