When one mom met a couple at a grocery store, she noticed how much they’d taken a shine to her daughter. So when they struck up a conversation, she thought little of it. But things soon took a seemingly sinister turn.
Amanda Florczykowski lives with her husband Aaron and her four children in Longview, Texas. Aaron owns a local carpet-cleaning business, and Amanda is very involved with her local church. And like all families, they are very protective of their kids.
But in February 2016 Amanda took her then two-year-old daughter on a trip to the local grocery store. It was early in the afternoon, and their visit was just like any other. That was, however, until they reached the check-out after finishing their shop.
It was then that the mother and daughter encountered a couple. Immediately, the pair took an interest in Amanda’s young child and commented on how adorable she was. According to the mom, they also asked about her age over and over again.
At first, Amanda put their repetition down to a language or, perhaps, cultural barrier, as the mother-of-four claimed that the couple were of “East Indian descent.” However, suddenly, things became even stranger.
According to a post on Amanda’s Facebook page made the day after the encounter, the woman’s demeanor started to change. She said that the woman’s body language and her closeness to Amanda’s little girl began to alarm her. Then the stranger asked if she could hold her little daughter.
Initially, Amanda said she was uncomfortable about this. But according to her Facebook post, her daughter was already so close to the stranger that the little girl instinctively reached out to the stranger. And before she knew it, the woman was holding her child.
Then, according to Amanda, the woman backed away from her, still with her daughter in her arms. Now, Amanda grew very concerned. So she tried to grab her little girl and bring her back to where she knew that she was safe.
But as she did so, the mom claimed, she heard the stranger say something that chilled her to the bone. According to Amanda, the lady told her daughter to “say bye to mommy.” At that point, the protective mother said she dragged her baby back from the woman’s clutches.
Although she’d retrieved her daughter, the strange tale didn’t end there. After the couple left the store, the concerned mom noticed another man. Seemingly, this white man was standing alone by a closed checkout.
And that wasn’t the only thing that caught Amanda’s attention. The man, who had no groceries with him, was facing the other direction to Amanda, she recalled. However, she said, that didn’t stop him from staring at her.
“His eyes did not leave my every move,” Amanda wrote on Facebook. “I confidently matched his stare to show I was aware of his presence. I loudly conversed with the cashier about their security staff and the odd couple that seemed predatory.”
The whole encounter left Amanda shaken. So she began researching the incident online to see if others had had a similarly strange experience. And, she said, her findings all pointed in one terrifying direction: sex trafficking.
According to her Facebook post, sex traffickers tend to operate in groups and dot themselves around their targeted area. She also claimed that the couple in front only purchased two items, which would be easy to ditch. Furthermore, Amanda stated that the woman seemed to try and distract her attention away from her daughter.
In her Facebook post, Amanda claimed that Interstate 20 is a major sex-trafficking corridor. The highway runs through six states, including Texas, and it passes by the town of Longview. And according to data gathered by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Texas is America’s second biggest sex-trafficking state.
In this case, there was no evidence that the strangers Amanda encountered were in fact traffickers. But if they were, her daughter was in real danger of being kidnapped into a life of exploitation. Indeed, traffickers would potentially have used her as a prostitute or a sex slave.
As a result of her findings, Amanda reported her encounter to the police. And the Longview Police Department later took to its Facebook page with a statement. It reassured the public that this was an isolated event. However, it did ask people to remain vigilant.
“Be watchful over the contact [children] have with others,” the police department advised in the statement. “Teach your children about appropriate relationships and to avoid strangers. In addition, we would like to remind citizens to report any suspicious activity immediately.”
After reviewing CCTV footage of the incident in detail, cops decided that it probably wasn’t an attempted kidnapping. They told fact-checking website Snopes, “The incident was inconsistent with genuine reports of labor or sex trafficking.” And although they sympathized with Amanda, they told other parents not to worry.
Luckily for Amanda, it seems that her daughter might never have been in actual danger. However, her post has been credited with raising awareness of the very real sex-trafficking problem in Texas. And a little extra vigilance surely can’t hurt anyone.