Hundreds of miles from the bright lights of Las Vegas, Glendene Grant is worrying about her missing daughter. Almost a year earlier, Jessie Foster left her Canadian home, drawn by the temptations of Sin City. Now, her mother is trying to trace her – but Jessie is nowhere to be found.
Jessica Edith Louise Foster was born on May 27, 1984, in Kamloops, a city in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The youngest of two daughters born to Grant and Dwight Foster, Jessica – known as Jessie – was just a young girl when her parents went their separate ways. In time, Grant remarried and had two more daughters.
While Jessie was growing up, Grant believed that her daughter might one day pursue a career as a hair stylist and beautician, helping celebrities to look their best for the red carpet. But in the end, it would be a different sort of glamour that would dictate Jessie’s future. And it came to her in the form of Donald Vaz – a man she met in Calgary, Canada, when she was just a high-schooler.
In 2005 Vaz invited Jessie to travel with him to Florida. There, he apparently delighted the young woman by taking her for trips on the ocean and introducing her to watersports. Previously, Jessie had been a high-achieving student who spent her summers at Bible camp. Now, she’d glimpsed a new and exciting world.
Visits to Atlantic City and New York soon followed, with Vaz continuing to show Jessie a seemingly glamorous side of life. Then, in May 2005 she met a woman named Yvonne Hubrechtsen, who offered her a job in Las Vegas, Nevada. And after celebrating her 21st birthday in Vegas, Jessie decided to stick around.
In Las Vegas, things seemed to develop quickly. Soon, Jessie had entered into a relationship with Peter Todd, a much older man. Together, the pair began renting an expensive property in the north of the city. And even though Todd could afford the house and numerous vehicles without any discernible form of income, Jessie appeared to believe that everything was above board.
Jessie seemed to be loving her new life, in fact. According to Grant, her daughter told her that she and Todd were engaged, and that she was happy in Las Vegas. And although she visited Kamloops for Christmas in 2005, the 21-year-old seemed keen to return to Nevada.
On March 24, 2006, Grant spoke to Jessie on the telephone. Jessie apparently told her mother that she was considering paying another visit to Canada. Then, four days later, Jessie called her sister, finalizing plans to meet in their hometown the following month. Together, they intended drive to their step-sister’s wedding in Calgary.
The planned reunion would never take place, however. Instead, Jessie made no further contact with her family, leaving Grant to wonder what had happened. But when Grant got in touch with Todd, he revealed some surprising news. According to him, Jessie had taken her possessions and abandoned their home, leaving only her make-up and a hairdryer behind.
Grant immediately felt that there was something suspicious about Todd’s claims. Doubtful that her daughter would ever go anywhere without her make-up, she began to suspect that the older man was not telling the truth. Concerned, she reported her daughter missing to the North Las Vegas Police.
But little could have prepared Grant for the revelations that were to come. She soon learned that Jessie’s life in Las Vegas had not been as perfect as it might have seemed. In fact, her daughter had been arrested the previous June and was also wanted on suspicion of prostitution. And sadly, that wasn’t all.
In addition to these revelations about Jessie’s lifestyle, Grant also learned that her daughter had been admitted to hospital with a broken jaw. With the evidence in front of her, Grant began to suspect that Todd was a pimp – and possibly a violent one at that. So, had he played a part in Jessie’s disappearance?
Even though Grant’s suspicions about Jessie and Todd’s life in Las Vegas were growing, the police made no progress with the case. Officers reportedly interviewed Todd on two separate occasions, followed up on leads and even listened to tip-offs from psychics. But sadly, their investigations went nowhere.
With the mystery no closer to being solved, Grant and Dwight Foster traveled to Las Vegas themselves, distributing posters in a desperate attempt to find their daughter. Then, four years after Jessie’s disappearance, her case featured in Benjamin Perrin’s Invisible Chains, an exposé of human trafficking in Canada.
In 2010 – the year that Invisible Chains was published – Canadian police received around 100 reports relating to human trafficking. And in the years since, that number has more than doubled. Additionally, research suggests that almost 50 percent of these related to women aged between 18 and 24.
Terrifyingly, experts believe that the vast majority of these victims know the perpetrators of the crime. And even though Aboriginal women and children seem to be most at risk, it’s surprisingly common for women like Jessie to fall victim to this hidden threat. Moreover, once they are trapped in the criminal underworld, it can be difficult for them to get help.
But was Jessie simply trapped somewhere and unable to escape, or had something even more sinister occurred? Apparently, her disappearance was not an isolated case. In fact, from 2003 to 2006 a total of four prostitutes went missing in Las Vegas. Sadly, the authorities have since located the corpses of three of them.
As Grant continued to search for answers, she became a committed advocate for the victims of human trafficking. To that end, she founded Mothers Against Trafficking in Humans, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the crime. Then, in 2014 Jessie’s story received more media coverage.
In that year the documentary Trafficked No More aired on television stations across Las Vegas. In it, the facts and rumors about Jessie’s disappearance were relayed once again. But even though this coverage saw Grant inundated with tips, none of them brought her any closer to finding the truth.
Today, Grant continues to search for her daughter, determined never to give up. Nonetheless, she accepts that she might not like what she finds. “I do believe Jessie is alive,” she told Global News in 2015. “But I want answers, and not only the ones I wanted. I will accept what happened to Jessie and I will go on.”