JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Esteban M. Reynoso, a trooper in the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop C, has been named Missouri State Employee of the Month for November for his investigative initiative, which led to the rescue of a child abuse victim and criminal charges. Reynoso became eligible for the state recognition after being named Department of Public Safety Sworn Employee of the Month for October.
In May, Reynoso responded to a call for a pedestrian in a road at the end of his midnight shift. In a remote area near the St. Charles – Warren County line he found a 12-year-old boy was walking along the road. As Reynoso spoke with the boy, he noted inconsistencies in his story. He noticed the boy had several bruises and asked if the boy had been abused. The child initially denied it.
But Reynoso had recently received training in the Patrol’s Interdiction for the Protection of Children program, which teaches Patrol members to identify signs of potential abuse and to establish a rapport with victims, who are often reluctant to report abuse out of fear.
Utilizing his Patrol IPC training, Reynoso worked to build trust with the youngster. The boy eventually opened up and began to share that his father and stepmother physically abused him. He had allegedly escaped only because his parents have forgotten to handcuff him to his bed that day. When Reynoso found him, the juvenile was malnourished and weighed just 76 pounds, about 45 pounds less than he had weighed four months earlier. The boy received medical treatment for malnourishment.
The case was turned over to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, which arrested the boy’s parents for felony child abuse. Additional charges were issued against the father, including for kidnapping.
“Trooper Reynoso utilized the Patrol’s Interdiction for the Protection of a Child training and demonstrated a commitment to protecting those who are vulnerable to abuse,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “Trooper Reynoso’s initial work was then thoroughly investigated by Warren County Sheriff’s Office to bring about justice for the child. This case is a great example of caring law enforcement officers working together to protect the public.”
At the end of a midnight shift, Reynoso could have simply listened to the victim’s initial story and taken the child back to his parents. Instead, Reynoso took a genuine interest in the child’s welfare, established a rapport with him, got to the truth, and helped give the child a chance at a better life.